#CBR7 Review #173: Beyond the Veil of Darkness by Esmie Branner

I’m at a bit of a loss with this review, guys. Initially, I wrote an incredibly scathing review of this book and then decided that getting emotional over this book is maybe not such a great idea on the internet. I mean, it’s kind of mean to rag on someone else’s experience with…God. And just because I wouldn’t choose his or her choices doesn’t make their experiences worth sharing. Even though I found myself grating my teeth and yelling, “Bad choices!!!!!” A lot.

So, instead, I will give you a brief summary and keep my comments to the writing. It’s safer that way. Beyond the Veil of Darkness chronicles Esmie Branner’s rocky first marriage and God’s intervention in her life. She goes a bit wild when she goes to college, meets a handsome Muslim boy, and promptly gets pregnant by him. After they eventually get married, he decides it’s time to “get serious” about his faith and then, she does about hers. She decides to get baptized back into the Seventh-day Adventist Church, at which he first threatens to kill her and then coerces her to move to Saudi Arabia with him and their children. She agrees, sensing that God is allowing her to go. She smuggles Bibles and Christian literature in there, and is able to covertly witness to a lot of people. Through many shenanigans, which include her sons being shipped off to India for school, and abandonment of her and her daughter, she finds her way back home with her children and glorifies the work of God in her life.

I will not quibble with Ms. Branner’s experience. It is hers to share, and she has every right to her story. Whether or not some of these things could have been prevented through different choice-making is another story altogether, but I won’t go there.

Instead, let me just say that the melodrama is high, especially when Branner discusses the vivid and surreal dreams God has given her. At some points, I wondered if I had accidentally wandered into a Margery Kempe book. The back-cover blurb does not improve my perceptions of the book, either. It hyperbolizes, “Though you will at times be tempted to think you are reading a suspense novel, the events described here are true.” It would be suspenseful, I guess, if someone had never heard of Not Without My Daughter, or at least had never seen the Sally Field TV movie adaptation.

Sigh. And that is all I have the heart to say.


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