About the Book
Book: The Reluctant Rival: Leah’s Story
Series: Ordinary Women of the Bible, #17
Author: Mesu Andrews
Release Date: March 2021
Genre: Biblical Literature
The moment Leah set eyes on Jacob ben Isaac, she was in love. Unfortunately, Jacob preferred her younger sister, Rachel. But when her father hatched a plan that would make Leah Jacob’s wife, she agreed due to her love for him—and fear of Jacob’s brother, Esau. Now, over a decade later, she is one of four wives vying for Jacob’s attention—and the only wife who follows his God. Throughout the years, the boundaries between the four women have been clear. That is until Rachel births her first son, and Leah her first daughter. Joseph and Dinah are the darlings of Jacob’s camp and the newest tension between rivaling sisters.
Leah fumes when she discovers Rachel teaching Joseph and Dinah about pagan gods. Will Rachel’s relentless devotion to false deities poison their children—and perhaps the whole family? Can Leah keep her sister from destroying Jacob’s faith in Elohim.
Where do I begin? Do I begin with how engaging and unputdownable this book is? Or about how excellent the characters are? Or maybe I start by explaining how thought-provoking the storyline and themes are? I don’t know … there are just SO many good things to say about The Reluctant Rival: Leah’s Story by Mesu Andrews that it’s hard to narrow it down to one thing. But I’ll do my best! 😉
I have always struggled with Jacob’s story in Genesis. It’s really hard reading his story and not thinking he’s a total stinker. Of all the many things that occur in his story, and all the many reasons why I could think he’s a total jerk, it has always been his treatment of Leah that I’ve struggled with the most. My heart hurts for her every time I read her chapters in Genesis. What I love so much about The Reluctant Rival is that Leah gets a happy ending. Yes, she is the wife Jacob didn’t want. Yes, she has to deal with Rachel constantly being #1 and that being thrown in her face. Yes, very bad things happen — I can’t even imagine what she must have felt knowing her precious daughter had been raped by a pagan neighbor, and losing her sister after Benjamin’s death must have been truly devastating. BUT, Mesu Andrews does a phenomenal job showing Leah’s story as one filled with hope and happily ever afters. What I love the most about Leah’s character in this story is how easy she is to relate to. I’ve been there. I’ve been the one someone didn’t want. I’ve been the one someone hurt with unkind words. I’ve been the one who was left behind after a loved one died. And, I’ve been the one who had an, “I believe, help my unbelief,” moment a time or two (Mark 9:24). Leah’s faith, as illustrated in this story, is OUTSTANDING. Leah is the kind of woman who has grabbed on to Yahweh and refuses to let go. But, after a true reached-the-end-of-her-rope moment, Leah does question God’s presence in her life: “Yahweh, are You there? Are You real?” (155). But she quickly shakes her head and reaffirms God’s truth: “Forgive me, El-Roi — the God who sees. I know You are real” (155). I may have burst into tears after I read this scene because I have done this very same thing. I’ve become seriously overwhelmed by my circumstances and have questioned God’s existence, but have immediately taken my thoughts captive as Leah does and forced them back onto the right track — God’s track! It’s just nice to know that others — even fictional characters — experience those slight moments of questioning. It makes me feel less lonely.
The Reluctant Rival is a beautiful story and one I won’t ever forget. It’s well-researched, well-written, and HIGHLY engaging. This is a book a reader won’t want to put down. I highly, highly recommend this read!
I purchased a copy of this novel in PDF form from Guideposts.org on March 10, 2021, in order to review. In no way has this influenced my review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.