Reading Challenge – Let’s Try Something New

kissesfromkatie So, I’ve lurked over at a number of blogs for quite a while. And for years, I dreamed of blogging but never quite got up the nerve to let my thoughts loose into the world. It takes a sort of boldness I don’t always have.

But one day my husband challenged me to write. “You read, and you have a lot to say about books and ideas and faith and life. Don’t keep it all hidden.” So, I’ve started blogging. And over the years, I’ve seen people jump into reading challenges and since that’s always seemed like my idea of fun, I hopped on board with the one at Modern Mrs. Darcy and here I am. Reading a book in a genre I don’t normally read.

My cousin and a number of my friends eat up books like this. I’m sure you’ve seen them – Christian memoirs with life stories to inspire us on our own journeys. I see them as a way of putting myself into someone else’s shoes and seeing the world through their eyes. Kind of like a novel – except they’re not fiction. I read a lot of fiction, but for some reason, I don’t read a lot of memoirs, Christian or otherwise.

I have a few in my TBR stack, though, so I pulled out Kisses From Katie. This one got tons of buzz all over the internet when it first came out. After all, the “homecoming queen leaves Tennessee behind and follows God’s call to Africa to adopt orphans” storyline makes quite the eyecatching summary. Going into the book, I wavered between thinking it sounded like a remarkable story and fighting my initial skepticism because somehow it sounded just a little too good to be true.

Having finished the book, I still feel so conflicted. Kisses from Katie is the kind of book that is terribly hard to review. After all, it’s basically the story of the author’s life. Or at least, her young adult life. I have some quibbles with the writing, but when I get right down to the actual story told in the book, that’s a horse of a different color. One cannot entirely “review” the meat of a book like this without passing judgment on someone else’s life, and so I feel like I need to be careful not to venture into that territory in a way that would be unbiblical. I read so few memoirs that this one taught me something new. More so than with many other types of books, a reader needs to handle it with grace. After all, the author has just handed over for our perusal not ideas, not a fictional story, but a real life.

That being said, I still have to say that I didn’t find this book as life-changing or enthralling as other reviewers online seem to have done. Part of the issue for me lay in the writing. The prose just does not work well, and stylistically, I found the writing quite weak. Parts of the memoir are very disjointed, and Davis also tends to repeat herself quite a bit.

Even so, I couldn’t help but be struck by the author’s obvious devotion to her work. Katie Davis travelled to Africa planning only to go on a short-term mission. Not only did she come to feel God’s strong calling for her to work in Uganda, but she has adopted many orphaned children there. Given her young age, I will admit to having some misgivings over how these parental relationships will play out, but her love for the children and for the people in Uganda in general shines through in this book. I would have liked to see more introspection because while the book tackles big issues (cross-cultural living, adoption, poverty, etc..), I felt like they got a mostly surface-level consideration.

I found the book interesting and it was at times very heartwarming to read about someone trying to truly live out her faith. However, even the best moments in this book don’t outweigh the somewhat weak storytelling.

3 stars

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