I mean seriously Lynn Austin, do you know how to write a bad book? I doubt it. Return to Me is an in-depth and fantastically written story about the return of the Jewish exiles from Babylon back to J-Ru (my college professor always called Jerusalem that and it kinda stuck with me 🙂 ).
After years of watching his children and grandchildren wander from their faith, Iddo’s prayers are answered: King Cyrus is allowing God’s chosen people to return to Jerusalem. Jubilant, he joyfully prepares for their departure, only to learn that his family, grown comfortable in the pagan culture of Babylon, wants to remain.
Zechariah, Iddo’s oldest grandson, feels torn between his grandfather’s ancient beliefs and the comfort and success his father enjoys in Babylon. But he soon begins to hear the voice of God, encouraging him to return to the land given to his forefathers.
Bringing to life the biblical books of Ezra and Nehemiah, Return to Me tells the compelling story of Iddo and Zechariah, the women who love them, and the faithful followers who struggle to rebuild their lives in obedience to the God who beckons them home.
Based on the prophet Zechariah along with Austin’s incredible research, the world of the Jewish exiles is brought to life with vivid descriptions and a reality check of what it was like for those returning. It wasn’t easy and it was hard. People easily slipped away while others grew from the experience.
Oh man! The history and descriptions of this novel are so rich. Even if you aren’t a history person, I do believe you’ll come to appreciate the background and research. This brings to life the stories of scripture in a beautiful way. Because let’s be honest, how much do you know about the minor prophet Zechariah? You know how much I knew? Well, I had to double check if he had his own book. So win for me.
That’s probably one of my favorite things about the start of this new series. Austin does not mess around when it comes to historical research and because of it, there’s a great new series fans of biblical historical fiction will want to dive into.
This isn’t a book you’ll fly through (I think it could have been broken into two books), but it’s definitely worth the read. It spanned over several years, so there were some parts of the story that weren’t as in depth or focused (whether on individuals or couples), but that’s what makes this one great. The focus isn’t on the individuals as much as it is on what it took to rebuild the temple.
As I’ve said, this is the start of another great series. One I definitely look forward to.
Are you a Lynn Austin fan? Have you had the chance to dive into any of her novels yet?
I think I’ll go re-read her Chronicles of the Kings series again while I wait for the next in this series.
(Thank you Bethany House for the Advanced Reader Copy! I was provided a copy in exchange for my honest opinion).