Book of the Month, January 2004

Review by Marge Barretta

Joshua’s Bible; a novel by Shelly Leanne, c. 2003; published by Warner Books, Inc. with Walk Worthy Press.

This is a timely read as we seek to celebrate the passion of Martin Luther King Jr. in the month of January. Although the text of this book is written as that which occurred before the days of MLK Jr., it speaks volumes about being created in God’s image, loving our neighbor as ourselves, and dreams of being free at last. This is a book for all those who seek to share the love of Jesus with the oppressed and persecuted. This book is a goldmine destined to increase your faith, your resolve not to grow weary in doing good, and your ability through Christ to stand and stand some more.

Young Joshua is a 1930’s African American called and gifted as a minister. He accepts an invitation from an African Missionary Council to be a Christian leader among the Xhosa people in South Africa. Feel Joshua’s pain as he leaves his family home in Philadelphia during the Great Depression, only to discover the negative impact his presence as an “honorary white” has among his native people. Experience the heartache along with Joshua when he is told what and when to preach. And then worse than that, Joshua is also given orders about where he will be allowed to preach this expected compromised message. Then find your spirits lifted as Joshua takes a stand for his faith, and the true meaning of being free indeed, alongside powerful novel characters during the height of turbulent apartheid years.

This story is rich in historical facts and it’s text is steeped in the importance of family, language, and cultural traditions. You will be both educated and reminded to meditate on God’s strength and perseverance in the midst of injustice.

What more can be said? This a must read. In fact it is a must read AGAIN. I read this book a while back, but it is definitely one that I both need and suggest to read at least twice. God has anointed novelist Shelly Leanne and what He has to say through her pages of Joshua’s Bible deserves to be heard and retold again and again.

*** Suggested Scripture: Jeremiah 29:8 and Jeremiah 29:11-14


Black Expressions Reader:

“Truly Beautiful. I highly recommend Joshua’s Bible. I usually complete a book within two days, but I found myself taking my time with this book. I did not want the story to end. I finished this book a few hours ago and it touched me deeply. Joshua’s Bible will truly inspire the soul. Please read this book. This has to be the best book I’ve read all year!!! As I stated before, this book is truly BEAUTIFUL. I hope Ms. Leanne revisits Joshua and Nongolesi in the very near future.”


Mansfield News Journal (OH)
“A very original and literary work…a beautiful love story.”


Angela Benson, author of Awakening Mercy

“…I wanted to tell you about a book that I read recently that I thought might interest you. It’s not a romance, though it has romance in it. The book is Joshua’s Bible by first time author, Shelly Leanne. It’s the story of the first African American missionary in Africa. It’s a riveting book because it explores an issue that I think is important: drawing distinctions between being American and being Christian. I don’t think Leanne sets out to provide a definitive answer but she does put the issue on the table and examine it from a lot of different angles. She’s a wonderful writer and she allows you to live the struggle of the American missionaries as well as the Africans they come to serve.”


* * * * * Five Stars [Supreme, highest rating]

“Shelly Leanne does an outstanding job of capturing the reader with this interesting story of social challenge…. JOSHUA’S BIBLE is an intriguing look at life from a not-so-usual view. The main character (Rev. Joshua Clay) is engaging and the spiritual theme of this book is sure to garner widespread acclaim.”
– Shades of Romance Magazine


* * * * * Five Stars [Highest rating]

“In JOSHUA’S BIBLE, author Shelly Leanne takes readers on a spiritual journey… This wonderful novel touched my heart and soul and I feel inspired to recommend it to others.”
– The RAWSISTAZ Reviewers


* * * * * Five Stars [Highest rating] A Best Kept Secret!

“JOSHUA’S BIBLE is a poignant, moving, engaging and soul stirring novel that resonated in my heart and mind. JOSHUA’S BIBLE is a hidden jewel, and once you discover it, you will fall in love with the heart, message and servanthood of a strong man of God – Joshua Clay.”
– The Good Girl Book Club


“In JOSHUA’S BIBLE, Shelly Leanne tackles complex subject-matter and transforms it into a riveting story of one man’s journey into the heart of an African nation struggling with the issue of race. Readers will be immediately drawn into the story of Joshua Clay, a Negro reverend from Philadelphia sent to South Africa as a missionary. Haunted by the tragic death of a family member, Joshua travels to Fort Hare to minister to the Xhosa people. As the ties to his congregation and his new family deepen, Joshua is led to a course of action that threatens his mission to spread the word of God. Through her melodic writing style, Leanne provides readers with a harmonious blend of religion, history, and romance that resonates like the Xhosa language and songs found throughout the story. JOSHUA’S BIBLE is a novel that will linger in your mind long after you read the final chapter.”
– Nneka J. McGee, KISO Books


“What a wonderful novel! Shelly Leanne has written a story that spans continents, races, and generations. In 1934, the Reverend Joshua Clay sets off for Africa imagining he will convert and “civilize” Africans. Wise beyond her years, Ms. Leanne suggests that no act is apolitical and that people of every race and ethnicity–and age, in both senses–have much to learn from one another. JOSHUA’S BIBLE immerses us in the appalling world of South Africa under apartheid, and yet there is as much joy in this novel as sadness. No. More. This is an uplifting story to be cherished by all readers.”
–William Holinger, author of The Fence-walker


“Burning at the heart of JOSHUA’S BIBLE is a radiant spiritual fire…. Shelly Leanne has created in her title character a man whose journey is a rich, anguished, and an ultimately most fulfilling one.”
– Sands Hall, author of the national best-selling novel Catching Heaven


“Leanne’s rich description and solid plot take the reader through many emotions and it is difficult to not question one’s personal resolve, spirituality, and courage. Overall, the novel leaves the reader longing for a sequel, and inspires a desire to visit the rich, beautiful, and complicated, South Africa.”
– ACE Critiques


“Impressive…filled with vivid and colorfully described passages.”
– QBR Black Book Review