HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: The Prize-Winning Story
Author: Ken Yoder Reed
Cover Illustrator: P. J. Crook
Publisher: Root Source Press, 2021
Related website(s): http://www.root-press.com (publisher0
Language level: 3
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Ages 16 and up
Rating: *** 3 stars
(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)
Category: General fiction
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Reed, Ken Yoder. The Prize-Winning Story (Published in 2021 by Root Source Press, Love of the Land Street #1, Maale Hever, DN Har Hebron, Israel). It is November, 2016, and Vladimir “Pastor Vladdy” Krakow is a sixty three year old ex-hippie minister from San Francisco, CA, who has a twice weekly, one hour radio program For Zion’s Sake, and is leading fourteen pilgrims on his fifteenth tour of the Holy Land. He lands Major Eli Bloom, Israel’s top counter-terrorist, as their licensed guide. Vladdy and Eli devise a story-telling contest with a $5,000 prize. As they visit various sites in Israel, different pilgrims tell their stories, in similar fashion to The Canterbury Tales. Who wins the contest? Where does Eli go when called away on a secret mission? And how does Vladdy answer the question “What about the Palestinians?” The book is called a satire, so it’s difficult to know exactly how to take it. The “d” and “h” words are used as curses, and the terms “O my God” and “Gawd” are found as exclamations. “Pastor” Vladdy is divorced and remarried. And there are references to drinking beer.
Publisher’s Weekly noted, “No satiric novel about the Middle East could please all readers.” The theme of the book is stated by the author, Ken Yoder Reed, who wrote, “When people talk about Christians replacing Jews as God’s Chosen People, we need to say NO, God doesn’t change His mind.” The position to which Reed says NO is often called Replacement Theology or Fulfillment Theology, and many devout Bible believers do not share Reed’s view. Another reviewer expressed it as well as I could, saying, “A particular school of biblical interpretation called Replacement Theology is demonized by several characters….Characters call all proponents of this teaching anti-Semitic and Dr. Michael Brown states, ‘A straight line runs from Replacement Theology to Hitler and the Final Solution for the “Problem of the Jews.”’ While this theology has been used to rationalize terrible violence against Jews, it is not the cause of such crimes. There are many sincere Christians who believe Replacement Theology and are not anti-Semitic.”
Blaming Christians today for 1600 years of persecution of the Jews, including the Holocaust, often led by so-called “Christian leaders,” is like blaming all Jews today for the crucifixion of Christ. All racial and ethnic prejudice is wrong. It seems that in the current climate, anyone who expresses any sort of criticism, however mild, of Israel or Judaism is called “anti-Semitic.” I certainly believe in the right of the Jewish people to be secure in their homeland, and I support the State of Israel as the only democratically governed nation in the Middle East, but not because of what I am convinced is a misinterpretation of the Bible. I really did not care for the book because of its theology, with which I strongly disagree, but from a purely literary standpoint, the plot of the novel itself is very engaging, the stories told by the pilgrims are intriguing, and the information presented about the history and geography of the area, assuming that it is all accurate, is quite fascinating.