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The Way by Kristen Wolf

The Way

by Kristen Wolf

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The Way envisions a new beginning for Christianity through the portrayal of Jesus as a woman. Anna's masculine appearance as a child causes her no end of hurt as the other children make fun of her and her father despairs that he has no son. The loss of an infant son and then the death of his wife lead Anna's father to disguise her as a boy and sell her to shepherds so he will be rid of her. For Anna this is the beginning of an unimaginable journey as she must first hide her femaleness and then learn to embrace it when she reaches what she thinks is her final destination. Her time as a shepherd and her time among the Sisters learning The Way prepare her for a larger role in the spiritual conflict taking place outside the caves she thinks of as home.

Sometimes you are looking for a book that will just take you away from your life. A book that lets your imagination run wild and entertains or relaxes you. The Way is not one of those books. The Way challenges you to think beyond what you have learned of Christianity. To expand your vision beyond yourself and your family and to remember how all things in the world are connected. Wolf takes some of the traditional Bible stories of Jesus and gives them new life as she shares them in a different context. The Way does not diminish Christianity but instead adds another layer of thought that expands it to include both Mother and Father in nourishing roles for all people.

Wolf writes in a straightforward manner that is both stark and beautiful at the same time. She matches her writing to each scene with scenes of the desert and scenes of the caves flowing just a bit differently. This enhances the reading experience as I was able to get a great sense of what Anna was feeling and experiencing through the changes in the writing. The shifts in name from Anna to Jesus and back again were so complete that it was possible in sections of the story to forget that the character is actually female. Anna must completely abandon herself into her male role and Wolf writes this absolutely convincingly and with total conviction.

It is incredibly important to remember when reading The Way that it is a work of fiction. While Wolf did research lesser known aspects of Christianity for background, this is her story and her vision. I think Wolf took a great risk in writing a story that could be so controversial for her first novel but she pulls it off wonderfully. I can see The Way being discussed in college religion courses with the potential for strong opinions on all sides of a debate. The Way does not allow you to read with complacency but forces you to think beyond the traditional Bible stories you may have learned as a child. ( )
  DonnerLibrary | Apr 1, 2012 |
While I’m not usually one for historical fiction- I loved the fact that this story took place in biblical times. I just found it awesome- probably because Bible times and the first century AD is a frequently re-occurring interest/research topic for me. That the story not only takes place in biblical times but tells a fictional account so different from the story that practically anyone alive is at least familiar with just adds to the awesomeness of this book. The story was a very easy and enjoyable read, as well as thought-provoking. The entire time I was reading the book, I was just so captivated by the gender roles and how they have changed- and stayed the same- since before the first century.

I agree with Kristen Wolf when she says that The Way is first and foremost the story about a young girl finding her identity. The story is more-or-less very familiar to anyone who may pick this book up, but it’s familiar in a way that doesn’t scream “And guess what happens next!” Honestly, if anything my current knowledge of the events that are historically well known added problems- not assisted- in following the story of what happens to Anna. Kristen Wolf writes very honestly as a girl growing up in a world that is definitely dominated and ruled by males, and then exposed the power of femininity. The questions that Anna asks are heart-stabbing, especially when seen through the eyes of a child. The issues faced by Anna as an adult, after living for years as a boy, are just as startling as she finds her place in her own body.
The Way is the first book that author Kristen Wolf has written, and I very much look forward to reading the next books she comes out with as well. ( )
  Shayna_Gier | Feb 19, 2012 |
I would like to thank the publisher, author and Goodreads for sending me this book for review.

When I picked up The Way it wasn't quite what I was expecting. I don't feel the synopsis really lets the reader know what they are in for. The Way is the story of Jesus told as if he were actually a female. I've never been religious. My family didn't go to church when I was a child and I never had religion forced on me. Other than a brief time in high-school, when I attended youth group with friends, I really have no experience with religion. For this reason it was hard for me to rate this book, because religion isn't really something I am interested in. While I found certain sections of the story to be enjoyable, the religious aspect of it just kept taking away from the story for me.

I quite enjoyed Anna's character. I love the beginning of her story and the writer's focus on the way women are seen as below men in certain religions, and just how wrong that is, and how it affects all involved. I loved Anna's time with the sisters of The Way and her exploration of her womanhood and her connection to the Earth. The parts that lost me were the parts of Anna's journey that she spent as Jesus. I'd find myself momentarily forgetting that Anna and Jesus were the same character.

At times I found the writing to be a bit preachy and heavy-handed. I also didn't like the very short chapters. It felt like the story jumped around a lot and lost its focus. There were certain things I enjoyed, and perhaps if the book were written a bit differently I could have more easily moved past my disinterest in the subject matter, but I just don't feel like it was the book for me. ( )
  thenightbookmobile | Nov 26, 2011 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307717690, Hardcover)

Anna is a fiery tomboy living in ancient Palestine whose androgynous appearance provokes ridicule from the people around her and doubt within her own heart. When tragedy strikes her family, and Anna's father—disguising her as a boy—sells her to a band of shepherds, she is captured by a mystical and secret society of women hiding in the desert. At first Anna is tempted to escape, but she soon finds that the sisterhood's teachings and healing abilities, wrapped in an ancient philosophy they call "The Way," have unleashed an unexpected power within her.

When danger befalls the caves in which the sisters have made their home, Anna embarks on a hazardous mission to preserve the wisdom of her mentors by proclaiming it among ordinary people. Her daring quest and newfound destiny reveal, at last, the full truth of her identity—a shocking revelation that will spark as much controversy as it does celebration.

Anna’s story is one of transformation, betrayal, love, loss, deception, and above all, redemption. Readers will cheer for this unforgettable protagonist—and for debut novelist Kristen Wolf, whose beautifully written book both provokes and inspires. A compelling mix of history, myth, and fantasy, The Way is a fascinating exploration of the foundations and possibilities of human spirituality.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:59 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Follows the story of androgynous tomboy Anna, who is disguised as a male and sold to a band of shepherds before entering a spiritual society of desert women who convey mystical teachings and help her discover her latent powers.

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