With the Persian overthrow of Babylon, King Cyrus issues a decree allowing the Jews to return to Jerusalem and rebuild their temple.

Young Zechariah has reached a pivotal point in his life. On the cusp of adulthood, he must choose whether he will stay in Babylon with his parents or travel to Jerusalem with his grandparents and help rebuild the Jewish temple. On the eve of his Bar Mitzvah, he feels the overwhelming presence of God, and a calling that he must answer- return to Israel and train to become a priest.

Yael has lost her faith in God. Seeking help for her dying mother, she and her father turn to a Babylonian seer who takes Yael under her wing, teaching her everything she knows about astrology and the Babylonian gods. When Yael’s mother dies, the woman claims it is because of the unbelief of the Jews- an unbelief that Yael is determined to overcome. When she is forced to travel to Jerusalem by her father, young Yael determines to bring her knowledge of fortune telling with her, despite Zechariah’s warnings that she could be stoned for idolatry.

When Zechariah arrives in Jerusalem and construction on the temple begins, things are not exactly as he expected them to be. There is discord among his own people, and violent clashes with the neighboring Samaritans which threaten to bring construction to a halt. On top of it all, Yael has begun telling fortunes for women in the neighboring villages, and Zechariah is determined to protect her, no matter what the cost.

Return To Me is a wonderfully told story that brought the bible to life for me like never before, helping readers to better understand what life was like in ancient times. I especially loved how Austin chose to incorporate several Hebraic words in the story, with definitions in glossary at back. This book was not only fun to read, it was also very enlightening and educational. A moving story about having the courage to trust in God’s promises in the midst of hardships and struggles, and the extraordinary things that happen when we do.

Rating: 5 stars

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I received this book for free through Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group, in exchange for an honest review.

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