cover image Young Mary of Nazareth

Young Mary of Nazareth

Marianna Mayer. HarperCollins Publishers, $16 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-688-14061-8

Citing sources from the Gospels, the Apocrypha and early saints/mystics' writings, Mayer (The Unicorn and the Lake) fills in the details before the virgin birth. Mayer includes the well-known tales of when Mary heals a bird and a sick girl as well as the renown she gains from her good works at the temple. Aside from these additions to the biblical account of Mary's life, the author creates an interesting perspective of Mary and the girl/woman she might have been. Mayer opens this interpretation with Mary's plea to God for a child from her barren mother, Anna; when the promised child arrives, Anna and Joachim's lives are forever changed and blessed. Young Mary's kindness and wisdom impress all who meet her, astounding even the most learned of temple teachers with her insights. Her eventual betrothal to the elderly widower Joseph foreshadows her part in conceiving and bringing forth the Messiah Jesus. The account of Mary's early life reads fluidly and evenly, and the artistic reproductions from masters such as Rosetti, Giotto, Titian and Barocci contribute to a well-rounded portrayal of this essential personage in Christianity. All ages. (Sept.)