Gary really puts you in the place of a young Iranian woman facing the difficult realities of following Messiah. The story feels very authentic, woven with cultural details from middle-eastern life. And though the story is told from the perspective of faith in Messiah Yeshua, it is fair to the Islamic culture that Lina comes from. The antagonists in the story are primarily Islamist, but they aren't depicted as mindlessly cruel, rather they are striving for purity and even compassion, simply guided by their foundation in Islamic teaching.
This humanity in all cultures concerned makes Lina's struggle seem very real. Therefore Lina's struggle with her convictions in the face of persecution authentic. This sometimes means that Lina faces situations that some Christians would rather not think about, but if we're honest there are many accounts in scripture that should make us uncomfortable? Not the least of which being, our Messiah being beaten and stripped.
The story is also diverse, bringing lots of different experiences to the table. Intrigue, romance, spiritual pursuit... But it could also have used more polish, I think. Some of the formatting is distracting, but more difficult is that the later part of story seems to become overly focused with delivering a spiritual message, which causes characters to become stilted and distant.
Overall, the story is a good read, if you don't go in with rigid expectations. The last third or so is a bit weak, but there are good scenes even then, and plenty of solid, enjoyable scenes throughout.
(review of free book)