What was like for women in the time of Jesus?  What could a woman do if her parents died?  If her husband mistreated her?  What options were available?

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Alabaster by Chris Aslan explores all of these situations.  The story centers around two sisters, Mariam and Marta, and their brother, Eleazar.  While they initially start out part of a happy family, their difficult circumstances begin when their mother dies.

Then, when Mariam and her father are visiting their olive orchards, they find a leper on their property.  Instead of dismissing him from the property, Mariam’s father treats him in a compassionate way, but as they say, no good deed goes unrewarded.  Mariam’s father contracts leprosy and is exiled from the community.

Even though Mariam and Marta are of age, without the protection of a father-figure, they are vunerable in their community.  Both girls suffer from their vulnerability in different ways.

However, the two girls have one advantage–the leper their father helped gifted them with a beautiful alabaster jar filled with an exotic perfume.  This jar would fetch a good price–enough to fund both girls’ dowries.  They hold on to the jar, always waiting for the right moment.

But their circumstances change when a great teacher and healer comes to visit the village and stays with them.  Mariam learns from this teacher and is also healed from all the tragedy in her life.  Only later does she learn that this great teacher is Jesus, and Mariam will be with him in the days leading up to his last days.

I enjoyed this book, at first, just for the historical aspect.  Without a man to protect them, women and girls in the community are very vulnerable.  Just reading about the girls’ life experience was interesting.

However, when Jesus appears in the village, the story gets even more intriguing.  Those familiar with the Bible will recognize several of the Bible stories occurring in this book, which makes the Biblical stories even more inspiring.

I give this book 4 out of 5 stars on the Mom’s Plans’ scale.

Disclosure: I received this book for free from Kregel Publications in exchange for my honest review.


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