Middle-Grade Book Review | The Heart Changer by Jarm Del Boccio

theheartchangerAbout the Book

Can an Israelite captive, wrenched from all she loves, serve the very man who destroyed her village?

Miriam is asked to do the impossible: serve the wife of Naaman, commander of the Syrian army. Clinging to treasured memories of home and faith, Miriam faces captivity with worry and bitterness. Little does she know the Heart Changer is wooing and preparing her for a greater mission far beyond what she could imagine.

This middle-grade historical novel reflects the heartache and angst of a young refugee in a foreign land where all hope seems lost.


My Thoughts

Of the myriad of genres a Christian reader can choose from, I gravitate towards biblical historical fiction. Within the small sphere of authors who write biblical fiction, I prefer those who use scripture as their framework—remaining true to history and, whenever possible, to the character of the individuals they are writing about. In short, I like books in this genre to be accurate and entertaining. Therefore, it pleased me to read The Heart Changer and discover Jarm Del Boccio does both for her middle-grade audience.

In her debut novel, Del Boccio builds upon 2 Kings 5 (Naaman’s healing)—creating an ancient world for young minds to explore. By following 12-year-old Miriam from the dusty streets of Shumen into captivity in Syria, readers glimpse what it may have been like for a Hebrew girl to be separated from family and forced to serve her enemies. As she adjusts to her new life, readers come to see how circumstances can exceed the bounds of our control, but how we respond to them remains a choice. In Miriam’s case, she could cling to bitterness and hatred, or she (with God’s help) could forgive… even come to care for her master.

I applaud Del Boccio for her retelling of this familiar story. While at times she may have ascribed an unusual level of maturity to her young protagonist, the strength of her message was better for it. If you’d like to begin a conversation about God’s divine providence or how we should act towards unbelievers, The Heart Changer could be a catalyst for this at home or in the classroom.


About the Author

jarmdelboccio_origJarm (‘J’ pronounced as a ‘Y’) Del Boccio finds her inspiration in everyday life, but in particular, when she travels the globe, observing the quirky things that happen along the way. Focusing on lives of characters from the past, she is devoted to breathing new life into the pages of history.

Jarm has a background in elementary and high school education, and served for seven years as a school librarian. Grateful for the opportunity, she taught three missionary kids in an isolated area of Papua New Guinea.

Her professional memberships include SCBWI, American Christian Fiction Writers, Word Weavers, Independent Writers of Chicago and Children’s Book Insider. Jarm has published two articles in “The Old Schoolhouse” magazine, and designed a High School HomeKeeping curriculum for homeschoolers.

“The Heart Changer,” her debut MG historical fiction, releases with Ambassador International April 26th 2019. Jarm is content with the journey God has placed her on, and lives with her husband, adult daughter and son (when he lands at home) in a tree-lined suburb of Chicago.

Follow the Author
Website | Twitter | Facebook | Amazon


One thought on “Middle-Grade Book Review | The Heart Changer by Jarm Del Boccio

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