It’s time for some August Reads, friends! Now, let’s be honest. Some months are better than others when it comes to the quality of books I read. Sometimes I share with you nothing but a rash of historical fiction. Sometimes, I’ll even admit to starting but not finishing a book or two. But this month? This month has been stellar! You might even say, it’s been simply miraculous.
Three books are on the list this month and I can honestly say that I was captivated by all of them. None of them were terribly long or complicated, but they were all excellent. One made me think. Another made me feel. And the last made me stand in awe of the wonder of real-life, modern-day miracles.
Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love by Dani Shapiro
Here’s the one that made me think.
The premise to this book absolutely blows my mind. Author Dani Shapiro finds out at the age of 54 that the man who raised her is not her biological father. And she does it by taking a DNA test from Ancestry.com on a whim! Never would she have imagined that her father wasn’t, well, her father. Even though with her blonde hair and blue eyes, she didn’t fit the mold of her Orthodox Jewish family and even though she says that she never quite felt like she really “fit in” growing up in that community.
This memoir takes the reader along Shaprio’s path from receiving this devastating news to finding her biological father and ultimately meeting him and his family. There is heartache and disappointment, discovery and redemption along the way. Honestly, I found the whole story fascinating.
What really made me think was this, though. The morality and psychological implications of donor-based fertility treatments are astounding. How many people who were conceived by donor sperm or egg will these DNA tests affect in the future? How will it affect their feelings of identity (whether or not they know about their own origins)? What will it be like for the donors themselves who believed that what their donation was made with a guarantee of complete anonymity? Whatever your beliefs about fertility treatments in general, this book and it’s subject matter are thought-provoking, to say the least.
Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler
I’m not going to mince words with you. I loved this book! In fact, I’m not going to share much about it here because I really just want you to go read it for yourself. I loved it that much!
What I will tell you, though, is this. First, there are two plot lines in Calling Me Home. One is set in the present day and revolves around an African American hairdresser from Dallas, her life, and the 89 year-old white woman whose hair she does once a week. The other is set in the late 1930s/early 1940s in northern Kentucky and is revolves around that same 89 year-old when she was just 17. Also, this is a highly emotional story. Jaw-droppingly so, if I’m quite honest.
Please read it if you enjoy historical fiction, examining race relations, seeing the world from a different point of view, or simply having books pull at your heartstrings. And then let me know what you thought of it!
61 Minutes to a Miracle: Fulton Sheen and a True Story of the Impossibly by Bonnie L. Engstrom
One of my very favorite things about writing here and for Blessed is She is that I am starting to get to read new books by new authors who are new friends. Earlier this year, I read Be Brave in the Scared by my friend Mary Lenaburg. And now, I’m thrilled to share with you this book by my friend Bonnie Engstrom. 61 Minutes to a Miracle is Bonnie’s telling of the story of her son’s miraculous healing through the intercession of Ven. Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen after being stillborn and without a pulse for 61 minutes.
I had heard the basic points of this story about Bonnie, her husband Travis, and their son James before. She shares openly (and with a lot of sass and humor that I love) on her Instagram account and her stories. Bonnie also is a popular speaker who gives talks around the country about their story and the sanctity of life. But this book is, to me, something quite different. Reading this book is like sitting at the kitchen table with her, a cup of coffee your hands and a big plate of her homemade baked goods between you. It is in turn heart-wrenching, funny, sad, and full of hope.
Now, I’ll be honest. Our family is not new to the experience of stillbirth. Five years ago, we lost our nephew before he was born at 38 weeks, so I thought it might be difficult to read the details of this story. But that wasn’t the case at all. When I opened up the PDF copy that Bonnie sent to me, I was hooked within the first few pages. In face, I finished the whole thing in one afternoon. Bonnie’s easy, conversational writing style combined with the miracle that unfolded on the pages (and the actual miracle isn’t what you expect it to be!) kept me firmly planted in my seat with my eyes glued to the screen. I cannot recommend this book enough to anyone who believes in miracles, but most especially to anyone who doesn’t.
61 Minutes to a Miracle will be released by Our Sunday Visitor in September 2019. To learn more about the book and to pre-order your own copy, take a look right here.
I’m currently reading Live Big, Love Bigger by Kathryn Whitaker and have some really fun books that I picked up from Barnes & Noble the other day. With a hurricane looming in our next few days, it’s anybody’s guess how much reading I’ll be able to get done!