As part of our homeschool curriculum to supplement the book of Exodus, my children listened spellbound to this tale. It was excellent historical fiction for youth. The purpose of historical fiction is to bring the reader into the past, to let them feel that they lived it. This author did this very well. We walked in the heat and the sand, we thirsted, we repeatedly heard the whiners and complainers, and we felt awe at the power and mercy of God.
No theme development? I guess it was as well-developed as in the book of Exodus itself.
The touch of romantic interest was well-done, with several scenarios. Goodness knows there's enough of that in so many teen books, but I thought it was handled quite realistically. It's always there, but is not the major focus of life.
Character development? No, it isn't too strong a feature of this book, but it's there. Ram obviously showed character development as he found faith in the Lord. Tirzah developed as she chose her friends, rather than the cousins she grew up with. And there was even a negative sort of character development for her mother, which, unfortunately, is too often true. I'm a little confused by the idea that the characters should have shown more maturity. Isn't that what we think every time we read the books of Exodus-Numbers? Why can't these people grow up?
The theme of racial prejudice, based on one Biblical incident, is more fully developed in this book than in the Bible.
And over-all are the themes of faith and trust in Yaweh (Jehovah) and trusting and following his prophet.
This is a great book to get a feel of this historical time period, as well as to assess our own commitment to faith, trust, and obedience toward God and his prophet.