Monday, June 25, 2012

Book Review: A Good and Perfect Gift

Author: Amy Julia Becker
Minneapolis, Bethany House, 2011
237 pages


Amy Julia Becker is one of Christian writing's best kept secrets. My friend told me I should read this book for encouragement about my own situation. I have a daughter with special needs. But this doesn't have to be the situation you're in to draw strength from Becker's story. 

The author has a child with Down syndrome. She wanted to share real life as she walked through it. She wrote in a notebook and prayed through it. Her husband was amazing.

How do you walk alongside someone going through smeltering fires of testing? It's tough. It's best to let them do the talking. We should do the listening. Here's what Becker writes about her personal devotional life in the early days of becoming the mom of a Downs baby:

"I didn't open my Bible often in those days. I didn't pray much, either. I would have liked to ignore God altogether, but my whole adult life had been with Christianity."

This kind of honesty is refreshing. Becker is human. Her faith is real and living, is what you find, as you read on.

Chapter six worked me over the most. In this chapter, Becker begins to come out of the fog that hangs heavy when life changes drastically and begins to embrace life. "We shared scraps of ourselves, and the thoughts and the questions started to come out." Becker communicates vividly about her emotions without saying she was emotional. "I couldn't believe she would be slowed down, delayed. But that was our new reality, wasn't it?"

The book is organized into three main parts containing 21 chapters all together. She didn’t give the chapters titles. They begin with an entry from her journal. Here's how the entry that introduces chapter 16.

Penny has started clapping and waving. She raises her hands over her head when I say, "How big is Penny?" and she lets go of her spoon when I ask. I always say, "Good girl," and she claps for herself. She is beginning to pivot and scoot and slowly, cautiously, move around.

I still get overwhelmed by the breadth of the difficulties she could face with this extra chromosome. The little things--thin hair, creased palms, widely spaced toes... The physiology--soft spots, small ears and nose, misshapen teeth, hearing loss, poor eyesight, speech problems, large tongue, small mouth, low muscle tone, heart defects, lung vulnerabilities.

The deck is so stacked against her, and yet she is thriving.

What a gift.

Amy Julia Becker is an engaging and creative writer. I'm glad my friend recommended her book and now I'm recommending it to you.


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