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The Mother and Child Project: Raising Our Voices for Health and Hope

Compiled by Hope Through Healing Hands. Zondervan, $15.99 trade paper (224p) ISBN 978-0-310-34161-1

This well-organized, well-written, and well-meaning collection of essays, compiled by a global health promotion agency, provides an overview of problems that affect women and families in the developing world. It analyzes issues associated with lack of family planning and demonstrates benefits to women and societies that have access to it, arguing that mothers and maternal health are one key to strong families, communities, and nations. Contributors include thought and faith leaders such as Jimmy Carter, Desmond Tutu, Nicholas Kristof, and Hillary Clinton; in addition, women from impoverished countries provide their stories. Churches are often first responders in an emergency and have an important role to play on the ground, offering practical help to individuals and addressing faith-based concerns. Both upsetting and inspiring, the essays not only lay out challenges, but also provide many examples of the ways in which women's lives, health, and conditions have been improved, permitting them to help others in turn. Kay Warren provides a foreword, and Melinda Gates contributes a preface. An appendix has contact information for organizations mentioned in the book. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 03/21/2015 | Details & Permalink

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When Love Calls: A Memoir of Great Devotion

Norm Supancheck with Marcus Brotherton. Bird Street, $15.99 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-939457-35-6

When Supancheck was in seminary studying to become a Catholic priest, he attended a retreat and met Shayla Strohmeyer, and something quietly but irrevocably shifted inside him. As he describes in this tender memoir, she called forth a courage in him that he hasn't known before. Friendship became romance, but Supancheck sensed the impending collision with his life's calling. The couple decided not to marry and in time Strohmeyer met and married another. Their love, however, is a deep and unusual bond that persists through these changes. As an ordained priest, he performs her wedding and baptizes her daughters; she encourages him as he moves from parish to parish. The two eventually develop cancer, their diagnoses coming within two years of each other. Supancheck's story of a love that transcends calling and circumstance is beautiful in its gentle and enduring devotion. Yet as he describes the divergent paths their lives take, he never provides a sense of what lesson such love offers readers whose circumstances are different. A beautiful relationship that has an unconventional outcome may disappoint romantics seeking inspiration. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 03/21/2015 | Details & Permalink

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Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving and Finding the Church

Rachel Held Evans. Thomas Nelson, $16.99 trade paper (288p) ISBN 978-0-7180-2212-9

Evans (A Year of Biblical Womanhood) uses the lens of her own journey as an evangelical Christian to explore what is happening in church circles today and, more broadly, what it means to be part of a church community. Evans humorously describes her gradual evolution from a teenager with a "crusader complex" to an adult who became increasingly uncomfortable with her church's conservative theology: "The trouble started when I began to suspect God was less concerned with saving people from hell than I was." Dividing the book into sections named after sacraments, Evans begins by contemplating, in lyrical prose, the theological significance of each sacrament's key ingredient (water, bread, ash, etc.). A powerful storyteller, Evans captures transformative moments, such as leaving a church full "of kind, generous people"; investing wholeheartedly in a new church that "collapsed slowly, one week at a time"; and witnessing healing at the Gay Christian Network's conference, feeling "simultaneously furious at Christianity's enormous capacity to wound and awed by its miraculous capacity to heal." Honest and moving, this memoir is both theologically astute and beautifully written. Agent: Rachel Gardner, Books & Such Literary Agency. (Apr.)

Reviewed on 03/21/2015 | Details & Permalink

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