Meals from Mars: A Parable of Prejudice and Providence
by Ben Sciacca
A fateful encounter late at night at a gas station in the hood brings together a white man from the suburbs and a young black man from the neighborhood. Stuck with each other for the night, they deal with their core prejudices, the walls that keep them from each other, and the discovery of their God-given humanity in one another.
When talking about race, it helps to have something specific to talk about―a story we can all wrap our heads around. In Meals from Mars, Ben Sciacca provides that story: two men from different worlds forced by circumstance to see and hear and consider one another. It is a novel that demonstrates the social challenges and relational potential for racial reconciliation.
5+ of 5 Stars
I adored this book for a number of reasons but I can also see why some others might have some issues with it. First, it reads almost more like a public service announcement than a fictional book. The two main characters are suitably fleshed out but many of the support roles are very shallow. Conversations between Jim and Malik frequently felt one sided with Malik doing most of the talking. Some sections of dialogue often felt like a slightly more conversational version of an essay or speech. I didn’t mind this because I appreciated the way it made me think about things. I want to sit and listen more to those who have different experiences than I do so that I can understand how we can fix what is and has been broken.
At first, I was skeptical because Malik makes a series of rash decisions that don’t help him. This is probably why I appreciated his talks with Jim so much, it brought out into the light some of the things I wasn’t even aware I was thinking. This book challenged me and my own beliefs in ways that society desperately needs, especially with the current political climate we have here in the United States.
Overall, I feel at a loss for words when trying to review this book. It’s touched me in a way that I don’t want to let go of but have trouble putting into words. I want so much to do better, think better, live better and without difficult discussions like the ones present in this story.. how can any of us hope to do so? I highly encourage this as something to pick up for anyone and everyone. After the story, the book includes a list of additional resources as well as a discussion guide that would be perfect for any book group or club. While not a bible study I think this would also work well for a church small group wanting to explore topics of race and equality.
A very big thank you to Tyndale for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review, I appreciate the opportunity to read it immensely.