Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Two Destinies by Elizabeth Musser

Two Destinies completes Elizabeth Musser's triology which began as 1954 Algeria sought its independence from France.  In the reviews of the two previous books, Two Crosses and Two Testaments, I shared how much I learned about the complicated factions affected by this war.  Much like our Civil War, families were split by allegiances and choices, but perhaps most difficult to understand is the hatred that arose in both Algeria and France, based not only on race, but more specifically on religion.

Thirty years have passed between the first two stories and this story which begins in 1994.  In the intervening years Gabby and David have married, raised their family, served as missionaries in Algeria, and have returned to France.  David's daughter Ophelie has become a professor and play wright.  She's very active in a small church which has opened its doors to Algerian natives who are considering converting to Christianity.  Among them is a beautiful 19 year old, Rislene, who happens to be in love with Eric, Ophilie's half-brother.  When Rislene's sister betrays her new faith and love, the 19 year-old is whisked away to Algeria, supposedly to visit a sick grandmother.  What really awaits her is a forced marriage and a controlled life.

Musser tackles tough issues in her books.  Here, each page seems to present a tougher issue than the page before. We enter France's growing world of unemployment and homelessness, we see Algerian families ripped apart by political and religious differences, and we witness innocent victims of a country which cannot or will not stop its escalating violence.  The world seems trapped in its own hatred and prejudices, but Musser shows that God continues his plans for individuals and nations, and to do that he chooses not only the strong, but the hurting, the weak, and the uncertain.
Each chosen has the possibility of two destinies - one of which is a destiny blessed by God.  Will they see God's hand in their futures or will they let fear and the past rule their actions?

There are so many parallels between this book and social ills we face today.  Hatreds and mistrust that span centuries, national borders, and even continents abound.  Groups do not understand each other; individuals and choose not to accept others.  Yet within each group there are individuals burdened with heartbreaks and desires to be loved and to be complete, but continued prejudices and violence prevent true change.  Fiction such as Two Destinies gives us a window into how things might change, if only, if only we heeded the destiny blessed by God's command to love.

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