Daughter of Ishmael
|Published||Cedar Fort 2017|
|Size||6 x 9|
By Mandy Al-Bjaly, Submitted on 2017-01-25
I have always loved the stories of the ancient prophet Lehi and his family from the Book of Mormon. I was intrigued at the idea of a novel written from the perspective of one of the daughters of Ishmael, whose family traveled with Lehi’s through the wilderness and then across the ocean to the promised land in the Americas.
If you would like to read the scriptural account of the experiences of Lehi, Ishmael and their families, please see 1 Nephi Chapters 1-5, 7, 16-18 as well as this synopsis of each person.
The book is told from the point of view of Hannah, one of the daughters of Ishmael. The story starts when she is young, and moves through much of her adulthood until the time she must make a heartbreaking, life-saving decision.
The Book of Mormon does not say much about Ishmael’s family. We do know that Lehi sent his sons back to Jerusalem to bring his family with them so his sons, and a man named Zoram, could marry Ishmael’s daughters, and so Lehi’s daughters could marry Ishmael’s sons. Their families traveled together to the promised land, enduring much trial, but also many blessings from the Lord.
So, though we don’t know the real names of Ishmael’s sons and daughters, or the names of Lehi’s daughters, author Diane Stringam Tolley used her vivid imagination and knowledge of ancient Jewish culture to craft a beautiful story of obedience verses rebellion, and family member verses family member. Throughout the novel, there was joy, humor, hope, personal growth and faith, and also much of the opposite – sorrow, murmuring, dread, movement into the darkness, and the losing of faith.
Hannah was a great person to be the protagonist. She was faithful to the commandments, admired and loved the prophets Lehi and Nephi, was helpful and kind, saw the good in others, listened to the Spirit, and always prayed to know answers when she was confused. She was steadfast and strong, never rebelling. Because of her strength, she was asked to marry someone she did not expect, and her life from then on would be full of uncertainty and worry for her husband’s salvation, and others’.
I loved this book, and had a hard time putting it down. Though many of the details of this story of Lehi’s and Ishmael’s family crossing the wilderness were fictional, I got to thinking for the first time how the journey must have really been, how these people would have lived, and most importantly, the complexity of their characters, even those would ultimately turn away from God forever. Nobody is two-dimensional, really, and Tolley showed that expertly.
A good book helps you not just read the words on the page, not just to understand what the characters must be going through, but to feel as if you are actually there. So many times I could feel how Hannah must be feeling as she mourned for the death of a loved one, yearned for the salvation of a member of her family, or watched the grotesque rituals of a people she once called her loved ones.
I highly recommend this novel, especially for Mormons, but really, for anyone open to reading the possibilities of what could have happened to two families who eventually divided, one side remaining righteous, and the other side succumbing to the temptations and lies of the Devil.
This is the ultimate novel about good verses evil, and spirituality verses worldliness.
By Shauna Wheelwright, Submitted on 2017-01-24
I love it when authors write about scripture stories. It brings the story to life and helps me envision it better. I have never thought of this story from the point of the daughters of Ishmael-- very intriguing! Extremely thought-provoking! You will never look at this story the same again-- Wonderfully written!
By Christine Till, Submitted on 2017-01-21
What a powerful book! It grabbed me from the first sentence! I felt like I was Hannah and was living vicariously through her the entire book! You could hear the sounds and smell the fragrances and aromas in the air. You felt the grit in your teeth and the dust in your clothes sticking to your sweat. I felt Hannah's pain as she was torn between her own family and that of the family she knew she wanted and needed to follow. This is a must read!!! I give it 5 stars!
By Ann Morris, Author, Submitted on 2017-01-18
This is a story of hope and devestation. It takes place in about 600 BC and places front and center the issues and customs that were common during that time period, according to Scriptures in several religions.
There is the ever present desire of some of God’s people who truly desire to follow His way, and there are the dissenters who scoff at them and wish them ill.
This is a time period when women counsel their husbands but are not allowed to speak up. It is a time when hope is very much alive. Sometimes it is the only thing these women can do.
It is a time when some people still believe in miracles and prophets, and others do not.
The main character is Hannah, named after the mother of Samuel. Samuel’s mother waited years in hopes of having a baby. When Hannah was finally blessed with a son, she was filled with hope that her son would have wonderful opportunities as did the original Samuel.
It is a story in which there is veiled hope in a possible future, and a reminder to continue following what we believe is the truth because miracles exist and can still happen.
It shows a divisive people, as we currently may notice in our own times.
Hannah is a welcome example of strength and perservance.
Read this book to see how Hannah deals with her divided family and deals with the consequences of the time period. There is hope, despair, love, anger, and hate.
The book is moving and will touch you deeply.
By Misty, Submitted on 2017-01-14
Tolley takes her time setting the stage for Ishmael and his family to follow Lehi out of Jerusalem. She intertwines the families so that it seems quite natural for Ishmael to take his young daughters into the wilderness after Lehi and his boys, and through a series of events and choices, the main character, Hannah, winds up married to Lemuel. Lehi and Ishmael claim to have chosen her specifically for him in the hopes that with her strong spirit and testimony she might encourage him toward righteousness.
I really liked Tolley's portrayal of Lemuel because he could be led toward righteousness. But he could also be swayed toward wickedness, and I think this is what makes him the most interesting character in the story and the most like us. Hannah is dealt a complex set of circumstances but doesn't seem to have the capacity to navigate them effectively--like, she's not sneaky enough. And yet, if she could compromise with Lemuel, she wouldn't be a worthy heroine. She is constantly torn between being a good wife (trying to understand what a good wife even means for a girl in her circumstances) and being a good follower of God.
Daughter of Ishmael really pulled on my emotions and made me ponder the story of Lehi's exodus from Jerusalem, ultimately leaving me to reflect on my own testimony and faith. I highly recommend Daughter of Ishmael to readers who enjoy historical LDS fiction and who enjoy conflicts that center around faith.
By Rorie, Submitted on 2017-01-12
I usually enjoy reading historical fiction, but I just must not have been in the right mood to read this book at first. It was a good story, but I just wasn't feeling it. Thankfully, my weird mood passed soon and I was able to become more involved in the story.
The reason I like historical fiction as much as I do is because the authors typically bring up ideas that I never thought about. Granted, these stories are the fiction part of the book, so we don't really know how things played out, but these types of books help bring the people to life for me.
Take Lemuel for example. I've never thought more of him than just a rebellious, angry, petulant brother. And he definitely was that. But in this book, the author makes you think that maybe there was more to him than just the rebellious side. Maybe he was actually good at times. And even though I knew how he was going to end up, it was still sad to see it happening in the story.
I can't even imagine what life would have been like for Hannah. First off, it was hard to read about the extreme cultural differences. (And made me so very thankful that I was born in this time and country and not hers!) Getting past all of that, being told that you not only will marry someone you don't really know, but that someone is kind of an unrighteous jerk, well...it says a lot for her strength that she followed her father's wishes and didn't run off and live her own life. Because I would kind of be tempted to do just that.
I was definitely curious to see what would happen with Hannah at the end of the book. If you've read the Book of Mormon, you know what happens with the Nephites and Lamanites. How would someone who is doing her best to be righteous, despite her husband and other's influences feel when they learn that the righteous people are going to be leaving to start a new life elsewhere?
I am glad that I chose to read this book. It was entertaining, but most of all, very thought-provoking.
By Marlene Sullivan, Submitted on 2017-01-10
I really enjoyed Daughter of Ishmael, a work of fiction, which is based on events in The Book of Mormon. Author Diane Tolley was trained in journalism and she has done a wonderful job of creating a story about the daughters of Ishmael, focusing on Hannah. This is a wonderful, thought provoking and skillfully written story about Hannah and her family and the trek with Lehi’s family to a new country. I love how Diane weaves in thoughts on the difficulties Hannah and her family had, and why their trials were so severe even though they were trying to follow God’s commands. Daughter of Ishmael leaves you with a better understanding of the trials we face in our own lives and the choices we make, while looking at the eternal perspective.