In the Shadow of the Ark

In the Shadow of the Ark

3.5 7
by Anne Provoost
     
 

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THE RED TENT meets GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING in the profoundly moving tale of a young woman who survives the flood as a stowaway on Noah's Ark. "And every living substance that I have made will I destroy from off the face of the earth..." When ReJana and her family reach the desert plain where the great ship is being constructed, the world has already begun to

Overview

THE RED TENT meets GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING in the profoundly moving tale of a young woman who survives the flood as a stowaway on Noah's Ark. "And every living substance that I have made will I destroy from off the face of the earth..." When ReJana and her family reach the desert plain where the great ship is being constructed, the world has already begun to change. The waters are rising everywhere, and both people and animals are beginning to panic. This is the dramatic story of the weeks and months that follow, as the rain transforms the earth and the people come to understand the magnitude of the disaster. This is the story of one girl who stows away on the ark for love of Ham, Noah's son. This is her story of survival.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Provoost (Falling) retells the story of Noah's ark, with Noah here referred to as "the Builder," from Re Jana's outsider perspective. After she, her father and her crippled mother learn from the wandering Rrattika people that a great ship is under construction, Re Jana's father, a skilled carpenter, hires Alem (also a Rrattika) to lead them from the rising waters of their marshland to the building site. Her father goes to work on the ark, and Re Jana falls in love with the Builder's son Ham; he disguises her as a boy and she finds favor not only for her gift of divining water but also for bathing and soothing the men ("We daughters of Kan have a talent for water," she explains to readers). But another woman, Neelata, also vies for Ham's attention-and a place on the ark. Re Jana's point of view allows readers to consider the incredulity and the desperation of ordinary people when faced with this impending alleged cataclysm. However, the author glosses over several major elements in the relationships between characters: the heroine's sexual connection to Alem; her father's change of heart in deciding to work with the Builder; Re Jana's decision to save Neelata. Issues raised in the narrative may well provoke readers' thoughts about the nature of faith, goodness and cruelty, but the characters unfortunately remain sketchily outlined rather than fully formed. Ages 14-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Brilliantly written, disturbingly brooding, this story is fleshed out with struggles of choice, courage, desperation and hope in the face of mankind's destruction. It is a universal story written from a surprising perspective, one that keeps the reader turning pages in spite of a pervading desire to finish it and shake off the gloom. Young Re Jana, her invalid mother and her father, a master builder of ships, leave their marshland because it is flooding. They travel on foot to the dry desert seeking their destiny—"a boat-shaped structure trapped in a web of vertical and horizontal girders." This is what people have been laughing about, but to those looking for work, there is a sense the project is being driven by something powerful. Provoost exhibits creative genius in weaving the smallest detail into a larger, unimaginable picture. The process flirts with sacrilege that cannot be proven and visions difficult to entertain. But it accomplishes a major goal—it makes the reader feel and wonder. No doubt an excellent choice for a book club discussion group, an ethics or literature class, it may be weighty for the young adult reader. The task of translating such a work inspires respect. Without doubt, the result is a testament to the prestigious awards for outstanding literature that Provoost and Nieuwenhuizen have earned over the years. Not a comfortable book, it is one that readers will embrace, or push away. Either way it will engender true appreciation for its literary talent and skill. 2004, Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic, Ages 16 up.
—Francine Thomas
School Library Journal
Gr 11 Up-This novel has a biblical backdrop, but unfortunately, the passage in which it is grounded (Genesis 7:11) is better than the story this author works too hard to create. "In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of the heaven were opened." Provoost relates the well-known story about the building and sailing of Noah's ark, but the pacing is slow, the characters are simplistic and undeveloped, and the prose is uneven and wordy. Re Jana, an outsider due to her race and background, is the daughter of a shipbuilder seeking work, and upon arriving at Noah's shipyard with her family, she meets Ham, a privileged son of the Great Builder (Noah). Their love is built on their sexual attraction, and they work hard for Re Jana and her father to become "chosen by the Unnameable" (the Christian term for God) to board the ark in an effort to escape the impending and life-threatening downpour. The writing is adult in tone and sensibility, and few teens will be engaged enough to grapple with the philosophical concerns it raises about who is chosen and who is left behind. In the end, this book should remain "in [a] shadow."-Kelly Berner Richards, St. George's School, Newport, RI Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher

Booklist
June 1, 2004

Gr. 10-up. In the tradition of the adult novel The Red Tent comes this story of the biblical Flood, recounted by Re Jana, whose family leaves the marshes to find the ark. The passion Re Jana finds with Ham, son of the Builder, leads to a place on the ark, but this safe haven, with the stink and sounds of the animals, starvation, and repeated (if not lustful) rapes by Ham's brothers, tests her in every way, even as she carries new life into the New World. Exquisitely detailed and intelligently written, this is a YA novel only in the broadest sense; no one would blink if it appeared on an adult list. Teens will find themselves alternately caught up in the story's tension, especially once the rain starts falling, and bored by some of the religious and philosophical underpinnings. There are subtly portrayed sexual incidents, too (including a relationship between Re Jana and Ham's wife) but these are small stitches in a vast piece that strikingly reveals the human condition at the hour of its destruction. --Ilene Cooper Copyright 2004 Booklist

Kirkus
July 1st, 2004
This beautiful, solemn, heavy retelling of the story of Noah's ark is narrated in first person by Re Jana, a dark-skinned young woman of a different race from Noah's light-skinned family. Re Jana's family journeys from marshlands to seek a rumored ship that's being built--inexplicably--in a desert. Nobody understands the project; only the Builder and his family know the purpose. Re Jana ponders (is it a landmark for posterity? a religious sacrifice?) while readers bear the brunt of knowledge about the upcoming flood. Re Jana becomes inextricably bound up in the Builder's family by falling in love with his son, Ham, who returns her love, and by performing her special oil-and-water massages on family members. Suspense slowly builds as the lands dampen. Consider this poetic, substantial piece a YA/adult crossover. The ending is both sad and relieving as it touches both the bible and the modern political world.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780545414821
Publisher:
Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
08/01/2011
Sold by:
Scholastic, Inc.
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
384
Sales rank:
744,590
File size:
3 MB
Age Range:
12 - 18 Years

What People are saying about this

Ilene Cooper
In the tradition of the adult novel The Red Tent comes this story of the biblical Flood, recounted by Re Jana, whose family leaves the marshes to find the ark. The passion Re Jana finds with Ham, son of the Builder, leads to a place on the ark, but this "safe haven," with the stink and sounds of the animals, starvation, and repeated (if not lustful) rapes by Ham's brothers, tests her in every way, even as she carries new life into the New World. Exquisitely detailed and intelligently written, this is a YA novel only in the broadest sense; no one would blink if it appeared on an adult list. Teens will find themselves alternately caught up in the story's tension, especially once the rain starts falling, and bored by some of the details and religious and philosophical underpinnings. There are subtly portrayed sexual incidents, too, including a relationship between Re Jana and Ham's wife, but these are small stitches in a vast piece that strikingly reveals the human condition at the hour of its destruction.

Meet the Author

Anne Provoost lives with her husband and three children in Antwerp, Belgium. Her four novels have been translated into ten languages, have won numerous major awards in Europe, and have been selected for the International Board on Books for Young People honor list. Her novel Falling was made into a feature film. She is a member of the Royal Academy of Dutch Language and Literature.

John Nieuwenhuizen was born in the Netherlands, and later emigrated to Australia, where he now lives outside Melbourne.

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In the Shadow of the Ark 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A book written with the depth of the period. I liked how the author gave emotion and human faces to an otherwise historical type tale. I would compare it to 'The Good Earth' by Pearl S Buck, the trials and tribulations of the times with the women in both books suffering what was required of them yet being strong and showing the back bone that women have always had.
elc63 More than 1 year ago
This story is totally unexpected in many ways. The story of Noah and the ark building in the Bible raises many questions which Ms. Provoost goes about explaining in this very imaginative and unusual story. It is very believable and works out how such an understaking could be accomplished in a primitive society and landscape.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i really liked this book, and i disagree with people who say teens can't handle it, i'm 13! i guess it depends on their maturity level... but i would definitely reccomend this!
Guest More than 1 year ago
It was a good book....but it dragged and it dragged and it dragged... ReJana, hardly spoke, Ham was boring, ReJana's mother was by far the most ineteresting character and and she was handicapped... too much 'godness-like' image was given to Noah. The more interesting chapters were the ones on the ark.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In Canaan Re Jana and her family live near the marshes where her father has earned a living as a boat-maker and fisherman. However, the rising waters have made the area unsafe so they head inland into the desert where rumors abound that a great ship is being built by some maniac named Noah. Re Jana's father works on the ark construction. --- Re Jana also obtains work as the diviner of sweet water and as the bather of the Builder's sons. She and one of the sons Ham fall in love though a different female has been chosen for him. She also knows that the Builder believes his Unnamable God has warned him that a great flood is coming that will destroy anyone outside the ark, but only Noah and his family plus the animals will be allowed inside. Thus her father secretly builds a boat to save his family as the waters rise to affirm the madman¿s ranting as true. Ham builds a hiding place for his beloved on the ark not quite understanding that the Unnamable God has dictated the dimensions to Noah. --- Although not for everyone, IN THE SHADOW OF THE ARK is a well written interpretation of Noah¿s tale told mostly by how the fascinating Re Jana sees events especially her inability to comprehend how Noah¿s Unnamable God allows those working on the ark to die. Noah is portrayed radically different than the pious starter of a cleansed non-evil race as he and his sons commit murder and rape. Readers who appreciate powerful retelling of biblical tales will enjoy this strong version of Noah¿s Ark, but must keep in mind the mighty fall off their pedestal in Anne Provoost¿s rendition.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Although this novel gave an interesting interpretation of the biblical scene, it fell short in so many other areas. The book seemed to drag for ages without much plot development. The characters were 2 dimentional and did not display any true characteristics. The book left you feeling relieved that it was over, but upset you wasted so much time on it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
THis book was really interesting, but I think that many teens would find it boring. I would recommend it to teens who are mature and could handle the philosophical points in the story.