Unafraid - Praise
In this conclusion to Rivers’ series about Jesus' matrilineal ancestors (e.g., Unshaken), Mary is not the serene Madonna historically depicted in art. She is instead a willful child, an unwed pregnant teenager thrilled that the long-awaited Messiah will come from her and failing to understand why people won't believe her when she tells them of her vision of an angel of the Lord. Only after God appears to Joseph does he believe and wed Mary. From then on, even though she loves her whole family, Jesus is Mary's sole focus, almost her obsession. Before her faith can become strong enough to endure his crucifixion, Mary must learn that her son was never really hers and that she was the vessel through which God worked his grace. The Christy Award-winning Rivers provides a fresh look at the historical Mary in much the same way Ellen Gunderson Traylor (Mary Magdalene, Mark) and Thom Lemmons (Daughters of Faith series) have done with other biblical figures. A solid addition to all collections.
– Library Journal
In her fifth and final Lineage of Grace novella, renowned Christian writer Rivers tackles the most celebrated woman in Christian history Mary, the mother of Jesus - with mixed results. Using the biblical account of Jesus' life as a framework, Rivers adds such imaginative scenes as Mary watching the young Jesus healing his little sister, Anne, or Mary pondering Jesus' ability to see that there is always enough bread and oil in the larder to keep the family afloat. There are warm mother-son exchanges ("You're so thin!") and personal details ("Jesus had Mary's chin... but no one ever said Jesus had her eyes...."). The stakes are higher here for Rivers than in previous novellas. While Christians may not mind Rivers taking inventive liberties with characters such as the prostitute Rahab (Unashamed), the same grace might not be extended to her fictionalization the revered Mary and Jesus. At the same time, Rivers having taken the plunge in choosing Mary could have risked a little bit more. Disappointingly absent from this novella are any undercurrents of sexual tension between Mary and Joseph, which Rivers conjectured so well with other characters in the series (particularly Ruth and Boaz in Unshaken). The result is a more lackluster offering. Rivers’ writing, however, is excellent. If Christian readers can accept the imaginative episodes without rejecting the lessons embedded in the story, Rivers may succeed in giving them courage through Mary's example of strong faith.
– Publishers Weekly
From innocent youth to a parent in mourning, Unafraid brings the mother of Jesus to life in a compassionate, non-melodramatic style. Though the story is historical, readers will find the simplicity and experiences in the book relevant for any generation. As a young woman, an angel visits a betrothed Mary and tells her she will bear the Christ child. It is almost incomprehensible for Mary to believe that God would use a peasant woman to carry the Messiah. And when it seems like a long time before Jesus can begin His ministry, she struggles with her own feelings and desires. Francine Rivers does a wonderful job of helping readers see the heart of Mary and to empathize with her loss. For yes, we know that God gave His son to die for our sins, but Mary had to let go of Him as well. A difficult task for any parent, earthly or not. Readers will find this book worth reading more than once, and definitely a great gift idea.
— Romantic Times