Book Review: "Naomi and Her Daughters" by Walter Wangerin Jr.

Melding biblical accuracy with imaginative detail, Wangerin explores themes of love, faith, grief, and community. While the widow Naomi mourns the deaths of her two adult sons and the shocking murder of a beloved adopted daughter, she ponders the plight of her Moabite daughters-in-law---and makes a decision that will change the course of history.

I adore Biblical Fiction stories. I know that there are a lot of people that don't like them but I personally do. This is because, while yes I do believe the Bible is true, I also see it as a partial history book. There is only part of the story that is told in the Bible. Obviously there is more that took place than what is recorded but since we don't have that on record, we can only speculate on what happened.

The story of Ruth, Naomi and Boaz is one of the most popular stories in the Bible. If you went to Sunday School you know their story. If you've been to a wedding, you might have heard Ruth's vow to Naomi of "wherever you go I will go" used during the ceremony. What I loved about this book is that it takes that familiar story and adds to it but not in a way that compromises the main focus of the story.
I'm not up to par on my biblical history so I'm not sure of the exact research that went into writing this book. However, I did enjoy how the story takes historical events mentioned in the Bible and adds them into the story and wraps them around the familiar story.

The characterizations of Naomi, Ruth and Boaz are different from what is normally portrayed. Naomi is a sad bitter woman who has seen many hardships in her life. Boaz is the same way. I never thought of Ruth being black but apparently that's what the Moabs were so that actually gave a whole other perspective on the story. In all the illustrations of her that I was subjected to in Sunday School, she's always shown as a really pretty Jewish type woman. If you are not familiar with the story of the Levite and his Concubine from Judges 19, I would highly recommend it. It's probably one of the most interesting passages in the Bible. Anyways, that story is used a frame for this story as it connects the characters to that passage of the Bible. It's really fascinating how it all comes together. The scene where Ruth goes to Boaz at night is quite racy, a different change from the sanitized Sunday School version.

I will make note that there are several uses of language throughout the book. While this wasn't a problem for me, for a more conservative reader this could potentially be offensive. I am curious as to why Zondervan did decide to publish a book that could and probably will offend their target audience.

Overall, I really enjoyed this story. As my middle name is Ruth, I've always found a connection with her. Plus her son's name is Obed, which is Debo spelled backwards! The Book of Ruth is also one of the most readable books in the Bible because it actually has a plot and reads just like a story. This book has helped to flesh out the story and give new life to a familiar read. There's lots of discussion to be had after reading this book.

Naomi and Her Daughters
Walter Wangerin Jr. is published by Zondervan (2010)

This ARC was provided by the publisher


  1. I love, love, love the story of Ruth in the Bible, and always wonder what else went on - there's gotta be more to it! :o) This sounds like an interesting read - will definitely keep my eyes open for it.

  2. I didn't know there was such a book category called biblical fiction. :-) This'd be the first!


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