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Book review: ‘The Cross Bearer’ shares fictional story of biblical character

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"THE CROSS BEARER," by E. James Harrison, Covenant Communications, $14.99, 224 pages (f)

Through a perspective of Jesus Christ's final days that is normally not seen, author E. James Harrison tells the story of oft-forgotten Simon of Cyrene in his new novel "The Cross Bearer." Simon's task was difficult but simple — to carry the wood for Jesus' cross when Jesus no longer had the strength to do so — but the effect this action had on his life and many others is powerful.

Not much is known about Simon other than the brief mention in the scriptures (see Matthew 27:32, Mark 15:21 and Luke 23:26) and Harrison has put together one possibility of Simon's life story.

For years, Simon has had a dream — to go to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover. With help from their sons, Simon and his wife are finally able to make that dream a reality. But the journey isn't easy — the road is dangerous, and both Simon and his wife have physical disabilities that make walking difficult, even impossible at times.

But they continue on despite their obstacles. And soon, everything changes when they find this Jesus of Nazareth they've heard so much about. All it takes is one meeting, and Simon finds himself aligned with the Savior in a way none of his other followers ever could be. What started out as simple curiosity turns into faith that will last a lifetime.

There are some descriptions of torture, including scourging and Christ being nailed to the cross, but the book is free from profanity and sexual innuendo. While the novel is fictional, it is clear that Harrison did his research on this unique moment in history, and the story accurately captures the time period and events leading up to Christ's last days.

Born in Salt Lake City, Harrison is the author of five books.

Angela Carter is a writer and editor. When she's not absorbed in words, she enjoys going on walks and playing the piano. She blogs at palydudeman.blogspot.com.