Fatima and the Sons of Abraham

Fiction - Social Issues
258 Pages
Reviewed on 03/20/2017
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Divine Zape for Readers' Favorite

Fatima and the Sons of Abraham by Val Bonacci is an inspiring novel that explores faith, personal transformation, friendship, and the sense of mystery, a work that will find a great home with fans of the writings of Paolo Coelho. Readers are introduced to powerful and compelling characters - Paolo Giobatti, Eli Kohn, and Darius Salamah, and of course, the woman, Fatima. Three young men — a Catholic, a Jew, and a Muslim — set out on an odyssey of their lives into the heart of Jerusalem, but an encounter with a woman named Fatima will alter their lives, their faith, and the way they see reality in mysterious ways. And the question that permeates this beautiful narrative is how the events in this inspiring novel could be connected to the apparitions of Our Lady in Fatima, Portugal in 1917?

The first thing that arrested my attention was Val Bonacci’s prose. It flows with grace, and the vivid descriptions coupled with the beautiful dialogues will leave readers entertained immensely. The second thing is the international setting that captures beautiful places, exciting scenes, and most of all, the background cultures of the characters. The borrowed expressions and phrases are seamlessly woven into the fabric of this captivating tale. The third thing is the plot. It moves steadily and it has surprises that readers wouldn’t expect. The references to the historical Fatima are brilliant and readers who are familiar with the stories will be moved positively with the writing. Fatima and the Sons of Abraham is a symbolic tale that explores what most religions have in common. It is very entertaining and it has a great appeal to Christians, Muslims, and Jews. The author has great skills of storytelling, character development, and plot. This is the kind of book I read, put back on the shelf, and find myself returning to again. The spiritual depth and manifold lessons of this book are a treasure trove for readers.

Deborah Lloyd

The title “Sons of Abraham” was penned by a sports journalist when he talked about the three-star professional baseball players in Cleveland, OH. Paolo Giobatti is an Italian Catholic; Darius Salamah is a Muslim and a Syrian refugee; and Eli Kohn is Jewish, living in Cleveland. Darius and Paolo met on a Calabrian beach, after an amazing bit of athleticism. When Paolo sees the spectacular feat, he pretends to befriend and eventually recruits the refugee for the baseball team. Paolo’s family includes his twin sister, Fatima, and his widowed mother, Silvana, and other family members.

Author Val Bonacci crafts a lovely international, and interfaith, story in the novel, Fatima and the Sons of Abraham. The families of these three young ballplayers develop meaningful relationships with each other. Fatima is a significant figure as she exemplifies true religious commitment, with mystical abilities, and is attractive in both physical and spiritual ways. While the plot is certainly interesting, another intriguing aspect is the substantial amount of information revealed about the differences, and similarities, among these world religions. Through the lens of personal connections, these differences are recognized, and eventually celebrated.

This novel is skillfully written - from flowing descriptions of the Italian countryside full of luscious vineyards, to the rowdiness of summertime baseball, the author weaves a fascinating tale. In Fatima and the Sons of Abraham, Val Bonacci develops a cast of complex and intriguing characters. This novel is engaging, entertaining and thought-provoking. Ms. Bonacci captures the present-day tensions, and relationships, between diverse cultures and religions. An excellent novel!

Darryl Greer

A Muslim, a Catholic and a Jew are all in the same American baseball team. What could possibly go wrong? Val Bonacci’s Fatima and the Sons of Abraham is not as implausible as you might think. Darius Salamah’s mother was Shi’ite Iranian, his father Sunni Palestinian. Overwhelmed by events in Syria, he becomes one of the 4.8 million refugees displaced externally by the war, securing a ride on a rickety boat which deposits him on Italy’s southern coast. While there, he meets Fatima Giobatti who is assisting a nun, Sister Colleen, tending to the needs of the thousands of refugees who have wound up in their neighborhood. Later, when he performs an amazing feat, he is seen by Fatima’s brother, Paolo, an American professional baseball player recuperating from a back injury at his mother’s Sicilian home. Darius and Paolo become friends, but not for any altruistic reasons on Paolo’s part — he sees potential in this extraordinary person even though he has his sights set on becoming a doctor. Eli Kohn is a teammate of Paolo’s who learns of Darius's relationship with Fatima during a phone call at a time when he too is suffering from a baseball injury. He is bemused by Fatima’s enthusiasm for this Arab refugee and it is not long before the two see each other as rivals for Fatima’s attention. Eventually Darius sees baseball as a potential source of wealth which will enable him to study medicine, and, succumbing to pressure from Paolo, he attempts to join the team. As the unusual trio sets off with their squad for various points of call around America and beyond, their complicated lives begin to untangle until they find they are not quite as diverse as they first thought.

It is hard to believe that Fatima and the Sons of Abraham is a self-published novel. Not only is the editing perfect — not even a comma out of place — the story itself is engaging. Extraordinary even. From the heartfelt dedication to a real priest, Italian Jesuit Fr Paolo Dall’Oglio, through to the emotional ending I was spellbound — and I have no interest in baseball! Val Bonacci knows her stuff or has undertaken a ridiculous amount of research to write a novel of this calibre. The author has an incredible knowledge of Middle Eastern affairs, as well as the world of baseball, which provides an intriguing and imaginative setting to the tale. The story is character driven, seen through the eyes of four individuals, every element of it topical. I was particularly touched by this passage, as though narrated by the refugee: "My priest friend called me ‘son’ on numerous occasions. Now this Jew does the same. Isn’t this what my parents would have wanted for me? — to live in a world where people with strongly held differences care for one another, regardless? Most everyone at the event tonight could not have been more thoughtful…These signs should give me hope." Quite. Whether your interest is baseball, Middle Eastern affairs, inter-faith understanding, or you just love a damn good story, don’t let this book pass you by. I can’t wait for the movie.

Chris Fischer

Wow! Just, wow! Those were my exact thoughts when I finished the last page of author Val Bonacci’s book, Fatima and the Sons of Abraham. This book intrigued me from the first time I read the title, and it certainly did not disappoint! The story focuses on three young men, one from each of the three major world religions, Christianity (Catholic), Judaism and the Muslim faith, as they find their lives intermingled forever through one fateful moment and their involvement with a strong and rather mysterious woman named Fatima. The three men, Paolo Giobatti, Eli Kohn and Darius Salamah, seem as if they couldn’t be more different, but through their struggles and lives, one comes to realize just how connected they really are. Will the three men come to realize this as well? Only time, and Val Bonacci’s excellent book, will tell.

I loved Fatima and the Sons of Abraham. Loved. It. How’s that for a review? Well, it’s truly how I felt about this special and unique read. Author Val Bonacci has done an amazing job in creating a unique read of fiction in a style that I have seldom encountered before, that of an allegorical tale. The story draws upon the appearance of the Virgin Mary to three young children in Fatima, Portugal, and the unusual things witnessed by many others surrounding those appearances in 1917. The book is well written and highly engaging, in fact, the only advice I have for readers, besides being sure to read this great book, is to be sure that you have enough time set aside to read it all in one sitting; you just won't want to put it down!

Tracy Slowiak

In an interesting and unusual new book by author Val Bonacci, Fatima and the Sons of Abraham will hook readers from the very start and keep them obsessively reading through to the very end. Follow the stories of Paolo Giobatti, the first Major League Baseball star from the Italian League, his arch rival, Eli Kohn, and Syrian refugee Darius Salamah as their lives intersect in one fateful moment. The three young men, from three different faith backgrounds, Catholic, Muslim and Jewish, will now have fates that are intertwined forever. And involved with all three is a woman named Fatima, a woman who will change each of them in a way that none would have believed possible. What will happen to each of these three young men, and to the three of them together? You’ll need to read the book to find out!

I very much enjoyed Fatima and the Sons of Abraham. Author Val Bonacci has done a great job in creating characters that readers will relate to, connect with, and truly come to care about. If that isn’t a hallmark of a great author, I’m not sure what is. This story has a strong message, and is aligned with the mystical and religious events that took place in Fatima, Portugal in 1917. This one-hundredth anniversary year of those very events seems a very appropriate time for a book such as this, and any reader who has a fascination with that time period, or who is looking for a compelling work of fiction in general should definitely give this book a chance. I am so pleased to be able to highly recommend Fatima and the Sons of Abraham and I look forward to reading more from author Val Bonacci as soon as I possibly can!