THE BEST PRESENT EVER: A SINNER'S GUIDE TO THE HOLY LAND
I didn't want to go on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land because I thought it would be hot and dry and boring, and I'd have to drag around on someone else's schedule with a group of serious religious types looking at one ancient shrine after another. No, thanks. This is what I told my wife every time she asked me to go with her and her parents. Then, a week before Christmas, in my usual state of panic over what to get her, I signed up, put the receipt in a box, and gave her the gift of myself.
Two months later, we joined a Dutch couple who owned a Catholic gift shop; a soft-spoken priest devoted to Mary, who had never been to the Holy Land before; some Americans; an opinionated teacher and her photog husband; two young Brazilians learning to be tour guides; and thirty Filipinos oblivious to the shopaholic stereotype for a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Decidedly non-preachy, The Best Present Ever: A Sinner's Guide to the Holy Land, lays bare the narrator’s unfiltered thoughts and observations as the days and nights unfold. Readers experience the constant hawkers; an argument at the Shrine of the Nativity involving a Russian tour guide; a night-time lovers tiptoe across the rooftops of old Jerusalem; a disastrous three minutes at the Tomb of Jesus; a pilgrimage-ending confession described by the tour group priest as "a good one”; and an impromptu sojourn through the poverty-stricken Muslim District of Jerusalem that the narrator will never forget. The bus driver is Muslim, the tour guide is seriously Catholic, and the story is universal...how do we all get along?