Official Review: Children of Covenant by Fred Howard

Please use this forum to discuss historical fiction books. Common definitions define historical fiction as novels written at least 25-50 years after the book's setting.
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Official Review: Children of Covenant by Fred Howard

Post by stoppoppingtheP » 06 Apr 2017, 15:08

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "Children of Covenant" by Fred Howard.]
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4 out of 4 stars
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Most of us have prejudices about certain other people or groups of people, that we gain or have been taught throughout our lives. We may hold tightly on to our prejudice or may try to understand and accept others. Children of Covenant written by Fred Howard explores the pre-formed prejudices of individuals and communities and the process they go through to change these views. This book is categorized as Historical Fiction, and although it does refer to events of the past, the main story takes place in the present and I would categorize it as Other Fiction.

One of the main characters in this book is Ike Benheart. He is the minister of the Unitarian Church in his small conservative town of August Valley. In his church, he emphasizes the inclusion of all people, especially homosexuals. He is a fierce proponent of the gay rights movement. His staunch views on the subject arise from the experience of his cousin committing suicide, for not being accepted for being gay, in his community and church.

The second main character in the book is Ismael Hagarson, a political science lecturer at the University, but also a Muslim. He sits on the board of directors of the Muslim society which wishes to build a mosque in the town. However, being a conservative town, the members don’t seem very eager for a mosque to get built.

It all goes awry one day when Ismael receives news that the building that they were almost able to purchase, to convert into a mosque, would not be sold to them anymore. Being used to anti-Muslim sentiment, Ismael immediately comes to the conclusion that the reason the owner, Lee Street, pulled out of the deal was due to this prejudice. Furious at the turn of events, Ismael decides to speak to the owner in person to try and sort things out.

The next day, the owner, Lee Street, is found dead, hung by a rope, and supposedly Ismael was the last person to contact him. Immediately all suspicions turn to Ismael as the culprit. He is arrested and put in jail. However, when Minister Ike hears of the news his thoughts turn in another direction. Ike had recently had a visit from Street and from the discussion he had had with him, he suspected that Street was quite depressed and could possibly have committed suicide. Ike feels that he should give forward this information, but he has one problem. He doesn’t really like Muslims. Ike has a conflict of interest in whether he should be helping a Muslim. However, he does come forward, and in doing so, he takes the first steps in building a relationship with Ismael.

During their discussion in the jail, Ike discovers that his parents knew Ismael’s mother and that they had in fact helped her when she arrived with other refugees escaping from the war in Bangladesh. This intrigues him and pushes him to dig more into the past. He then discovers a much more complex story than he would ever had imagined.

This book allows the reader to examine the prejudices that they have towards others. It especially focuses on two groups of people who have been particularly ostracized or marginalized; these being Muslims and homosexuals. The book also addresses the issue of change and the ability and necessity of people to change their views.

The character of Ike was well crafted and in-depth. Although he was a minister who tries to be inclusive of all people, the author shows his weakness in that he still has prejudice towards certain groups which he tries to change. The one downside to the book, that I found was the emotional reactions of the characters. For example, when Ike receives life changing news he seems to take everything in his stride and has no great emotional outburst at the news. I found this reaction of his to be slightly strange and perhaps not representative of a real-life situation. The author of the book is a Unitarian minister thus it is probable that the character of Ike and his views may be centered around the author himself.

Overall I think the book deserves a 4 out of 4 stars. It was well edited, the characters were well formed and were able to change as the story progressed, and the story-line of the book was intriguing.

Truthfully, I had a bit of difficulty reading the book. It forced me to question my own prejudices that I had. However, as I progressed throughout the book I realized that I would need to think deeply about the views I held about certain groups of people and whether these views were valid. The author has obviously researched deeply for this book. I also learnt a lot about the history behind the Pakistan/ Bangladesh war. I had not known much about it before, but the author gives deep insight into the human tragedy that took place during those years.

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Children of Covenant
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Post by kandscreeley » 07 Apr 2017, 09:12

I believe the we all have prejudices that we are sometimes even unaware of. It's good to stop and examine them from time to time. Sounds like this book helps with that. Thanks for the review.
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Post by Aimy » 07 Apr 2017, 13:51

In this book, author has indeed addressed a very important issue. Our prejudices blind us to reality and build walls around us making us unable to see what is actually out there.
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Post by Chrys Brobbey » 07 Apr 2017, 21:08

The review makes me feel like I've read the story by the apt manner that it summarizes the whole book. The theme is relevant due to recent events targeting particular groups. What I'll like to know is if Ismael was exonerated.
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Post by kimmyschemy06 » 26 Apr 2017, 10:17

Sounds like a great read. I have read several books that feature prejudice in its worst form. This seems like a book that is difficult to put down. Great job on the review. Congratulations to Fred Howard on such an obviously well written book.

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Post by godreaujea » 11 May 2017, 15:27

This sounds like an empowering read that forces people to see people and ideas in a different light. Great review!

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Post by gali » 02 Jun 2017, 04:01

It is good that the book allows the readers to examine their prejudices. Adding to it a mystery makes it even more intriguing. It is a pity that the emotional reactions of the characters were lacking. I will check out the book. Thank you for the review!
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Post by christinac_2585 » 02 Jun 2017, 05:33

Thank you for your review! I think you are correct about this being other fiction by reading your review. Prejudices can really do some terrible things.
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Post by Riddhi Solanki » 02 Jun 2017, 05:56

Well written

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Post by tarafarah7 » 02 Jun 2017, 06:55

Very nice review! Books like this, though, for some may be difficult to read at first, always seem to turn out to be beneficial to the reader, in the end. That is why authors amaze me! Not only can they keep their readers entertained for hours through their fictional story-telling skills, but they also have a way of allowing the readers to take a look and find ways to better themsleves. I'm looking forward to reading today's #BOTD! :-) Thank you!

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Post by GCamer » 02 Jun 2017, 07:14

Thanks for the great review! This book tackles many controversial issues in the society. I believe that people should be more open-minded now and not stereotype others. The historical part is also intriguing. I don't know much about the Pakistan/Bangladesh war. I'm looking forward to reading it.

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Post by Oishi » 02 Jun 2017, 10:29

I do believe it's impossible to grow up without any prejudice, not in the way the society is bent on re-instigating those prejudices. But we can slowly learn to let go of them and It's admirable that the author has chose to take on such an interesting subject.

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Post by jemgirl202 » 02 Jun 2017, 10:30

Wow! Great review!

I really want to read this. I have witnessed prejudices first hand by the church and because of it, I do not attend church. I feel we need to love and support each other rather than hate each other just because someone is different or has different beliefs. I will be downloading it today!

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Post by greenstripedgiraffe » 02 Jun 2017, 10:42

This is an intriguing concept. In a personal attempt to shed myself of prejudices, I find that to be a very difficult task. Overall, I believe in loving others, even when I disagree with their choices.
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Post by Nina Butler » 02 Jun 2017, 10:45

Thank you for giving this great review. I will definitely be reading this book in the near future. I hope that a lot of people will read this book and learn about the prejudices out there. We need more authors out there willing to take the risk and right about things like this. People need to be aware of what is going on out in the world, and they may be part of it and not realize they are.
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