Annette's Reviews > The Prophet of Yonwood

The Prophet of Yonwood by Jeanne DuPrau
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Jun 10, 11

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bookshelves: youth
Read in June, 2011

This is a prequel to the Ember series. According to my historian husband, the world events that form the backdrop of the story are a close parallel to the Cuban Missile Crisis: only the names (and dates) are changed. Our 11 year old heroine finds herself temporary resident of a small town that has fallen under the sway of "The Prophet" and her interpreters who believe that the sick woman has a direct line to God and that strict adherence to her mutterings will protect them all from the coming apocalypse. Nickie is initially drawn into this plan for saving themselves, but as the world's deadline approaches, the dictates become more and more severe, the interpreters more fanatical, and Nickie learns that those she reports upon can be seriously hurt. She must wrestle with the true nature of good and evil, love for God and love for others.
As a Christian I have an inherent distrust for books that deal with issues this deep when I lack confidence that the author is writing from a fundamentally Christian world view. There are surface similarities between this story and the (adult title) The Visitation by Frank Peretti. However, despite the fact that in both cases it's clear to the readers from the outset that the visions - or at least the interpretations - are not from God, I can trust that Peretti's conclusion will not be "and therefore neither is any other vision or interpretation, and in fact God, if there is one, probably doesn't ever talk to us at all and anyone who claims otherwise is a fanatic who is, in the end, as dangerous as terrorists they claim to hate!" In fact, DuPrau's conclusion is not quite so severe. However, all of the "sane" adult characters are essentially agnostic, as is the main character by the end of the book.
There are some valuable and true lessons here: fanatical, non-scriptural interpretation of signs and visions IS dangerous and will, in fact, lead to oppression and hate. I just could wish there was a true Christian of an adult to help Nickie understand this, and lead her to a (more) accurate understanding of God than the one she reaches quite on her own.

While I would let my tween / teen read the first two books in this series without too much supervision, I would want to be sure that we have some good, long discussions about this one - just in case!

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