post written by Emma Filbrun
Title: Vinegar Boy
Author: Alberta Hawse
Major Themes: Bible Times, Jesus
Synopsis: Vinegar Boy has the day off to go searching for Jesus, to ask a favor of him, but finds himself having to perform a long series of tasks first.
I remember reading Vinegar Boy many years ago, to decide if I wanted to sell it in my bookstore. At that time, I decided it wasn’t worthwhile enough to stock, so I didn’t. I recently bought a used copy to read, so I could review it for this website, because I wanted to know if my earlier impressions were still my opinion now, or if I would see the story differently.
Vinegar Boy was found in the hills as an infant by a Roman patrol, and one of the men raised the baby. He had a livid red birthmark on one side of his face, and always figured that was why he had been abandoned by his parents; he knew nothing about his origins. When the great Rabbi Jesus came to Jerusalem and was healing people, Vinegar Boy had hope for the first time in his life. His foster father gave him the day off so he could go find Jesus and ask for healing—and then the boy would choose a name and allow himself to be adopted! What an exciting day.
First, however, he had to take vinegar spiked with myrrh to the hill where three criminals were being executed by crucifixion. On the way, he nearly stumbled over a man who had been beaten, then released by the Romans. What a mystery he found himself in the middle of—who was the third criminal, that no one seemed to know much about, and why had the notorious bandit been released? Vinegar Boy found himself in the middle of the greatest day of all history. Would he ever receive the healing he so badly wanted? Or would he find something even better?
The story line is good, and the writing style is fairly good. However, I object to a liberty the author took with the Biblical account. I don’t believe that the darkness while Jesus was on the cross was caused by a sandstorm, and the Bible does not say that there was a terrific thunderstorm. Other than that, however, the story is good, as I said. I liked the way the author showed that Jesus died in place of Barrabas…and Vinegar Boy…and me.