I’m joining with Carolyn Astfalk and Catholic Mom for An Open Book.
Here’s what I’ve been reading during the past month:
A New Lens on Life: Jesus Was My Ophthalmologist
by Harry Brady
Publisher synopsis: Growing up on the Northside of Pittsburgh with an alcoholic father and rats in the basement, Harry R. Brady developed an Irish wit that glows throughout A New Lens on Life—Jesus was My Ophthalmologist.
The “scrawny little kid with glasses” peppered his childhood with classroom misbehavior, sandlot exploits, misadventures with fireworks, and practical jokes, and tempered it with endearing innocence and compassion for others.
Then, as the lone survivor of a tractor-trailer accident that killed three college classmates, Harry lost his Faith and challenged God. “Why did You save me?”
Still mourning his friends’ deaths while sitting next to classmate Antonin Scalia at graduation from Georgetown, Harry questioned God’s very existence.
Inspired by the love of his life, he finished medical school, started a family, and wound up in the Army. During his M.A.S.H.-like service as a Captain and surgeon in Korea during the Vietnam War, Harry’s mischievous and creative stunts shocked his superiors as he served those in need.
Later, he performed sight-restoring and sight-saving surgeries for the blind and the vision-impaired in Haiti. His Brady Clinic for the Homeless at Saint Louis University has provided free service to more than 11,000 medically disenfranchised people. In this rollicking and deeply inspiring autobiography filled with twists and turns, Harry discovers that after living 64 years with his own spiritual vision impairment, that Faith and Reason are two compatible expressions of one universal truth.
My review: I had the absolute pleasure of working with Harry by editing his book. Dr. Brady is one of most entertaining and inspiring people I’ve ever had the pleasure to know. Highly recommend this wonderful book.
Where You Lead by Leslea Wahl
Amazon Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Eve Donahue’s lonely existence changes in an instant when visions of a mysterious stranger haunt her. Certain God is calling her for a mission, she bravely says yes and begins her quest to meet this young man.
Thousands of miles away, Nick Hammond has been dealing with his own unusual experience, an unwavering certainness to convince his father to run for political office.
When these two unlikely teens finally meet, their belief that God has called them to work together sets them on a journey of faith to untangle a web of deception involving international trade agreements, lost confederate gold, and a blossoming romance. As they follow century old clues, they realize God can call us all in big and small ways. We just need to listen and say “Yes Lord, I will go where You lead.”
My review: Thoroughly enjoyed this book! More detailed review to come!
The Hidden Legacy by Carrie Sue Barnes
Amazon Synopsis: A young American woman departs for France, leaving behind her family and fiancé, to serve as a nurse during World War I. Her unpredictable experiences and choices will reshape not only her, but the generations to come after her, as well. Your legacy is built one decision at a time. Forsaking the comforts of home at the height of World War I, Annie Walcott serves as a nurse at a French estate turned war hospital. In the face of daily hardships and losses, she shutters her heart against the emotional toll of her work. When Kyle, the brother of a patient, arrives at the hospital, his and Annie’s unforeseen connection threatens to dismantle her protective walls. New possibilities and former loyalties clash. Will Annie have the courage to become the woman of unrivaled strength and faith she longs to be? Can she embrace the sacrifices necessary to step forward in love? Eighty years later, in a tiny Midwest town where Annie has led a quiet, contented life, she finally confides her untold memories to her great-granddaughter Laurel. The heritage of secrets casts a startling new light on Laurel’s family, faith, and identity. In Annie’s final days, can Laurel allow truth to heal the past and fortify her for the future?
My review: The Hidden Legacy is a beautiful story of Annie Walcott who served as a WW 1 nurse in France. The book goes back and forth between young Annie’s perspective and 100-year-old Annie’s perspective as she tells her great-granddaughter Laurel what it was like to serve as a nurse so long ago. Annie describes events and people who changed the course of her life and, consequently, Laurel’s. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction.
School of Darkness by Bella Dodd
Amazon synopsis: Dodd’s re-entrance into the Catholic Church—which as a communist she had so bitterly attacked—was a natural result of her new state of mind. In the early 1950s, she provided detailed explanations of the Communist subversion of the Church, reporting that “in the 1930s we put eleven hundred men into the priesthood in order to destroy the Church from within, [and that] right now they are in the highest places in the Church.” From such positions they were working to bring about change in order to weaken the Church’s effectiveness against Communism. She said further that these changes would be so drastic that “you will not recognize the Catholic Church.”
Bella Dodd’s story is a human document of immense importance to Americans today. Here are the inner workings of the Communist Party in the United States in the early to mid-20th century as seen from the secret counsels and strategy meetings of the National Committee, to which she belonged for a crucial span of years. The climax of the book is a snowy Christmas Eve when Bella finds the reaffirmation of her faith, and is able to say, “I have learned from bitter experience that you cannot serve man unless you first serve God in sincerity and truth.” Not being able to secure her baptismal certificate from Italy after inquiry, she was baptized by Bishop Fulton J. Sheen in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, New York.
My review: I ordered this after hearing Fr. Altier’s homily on the Communist infiltration of the Catholic Church. Although the synopsis indicates it tells about how Communism infiltrated the Catholic Church, it doesn’t. It goes into the detailed story of how she became a Communist and how she was expelled from the party and eventually became Catholic. Still, I’d recommend it. It illustrates just how devious Communism is in its brainwashing. Four of five stars.
Lives of the Saints by Michael Ruszalia
Amazon Synopsis: This book, written from a Catholic perspective, provides an overview to the lives of the saints celebrated from January to March on the Roman calendar. It is the first in a series, which will cover the whole Church year. It makes for inspirational spiritual reading any time of the year, providing an introduction to the patron saints for many walks of life. Included are the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph, Apostles like St. Peter and St. Paul, early martyrs like St. Perpetua and St. Felicity, early evangelizers like St. Patrick, medieval giants such as St. Thomas Aquinas, American saints such as St. Elizabeth Ann Seton and St. John Neumann, and many others.
My review: I got this during a free promo on Kindle. It’s a beautiful book and I’m enjoying it very much.
Perfect Match by Jodi Picoult
Amazon Synopsis: For career-driven assistant district attorney Nina Frost, the question inspires pangs of guilt familiar to all parents torn by the demands of home and office. But whereas most parents lie awake at night vividly conjuring the worst scenarios that could befall their children in their absence, Nina lives the reality of such crises — and it’s her job to do something about them. Nina Frost prosecutes child molesters — and in the course of her everyday work, she has endured the frustration of seeing too many criminals slip through the system and walk free.
But even the strongest walls cannot guard Nina from the shattering discovery that her own beloved son has been sexually abused.
Five-year-old Nathaniel is the only one who knows the identity of his assailant — but in the initial fallout of his trauma, he’s been left mute, unable to speak a single word. Knowing the futility of trusting the courts to exact justice for Nathaniel, and ripped apart by a maddening sense of helplessness, Nina finds herself in a grip of rage she can’t deny — no matter the consequence, whatever the sacrifice. What does it take to be a good mother? How far can a person go…and still live with herself? What happens if one’s absolute truths and convictions are turned upside down?
My review: With the current crisis within the Church, I wanted to re-read this novel that I had read years ago. It packs a powerful punch. Picoult dives head first into the topic of clerical abuse. This is one of Picoult’s best books, in my opinion, because she does an excellent job of keeping the reader turning the pages and at the same time eliciting fear, relief, joy, and sadness. Highly recommend (NB: although studies show that the high percentage of young men abused by priests are post-pubescent, the child in the book is only five years old.)
Bound by Vigaya Bodach
Amazon Synopsis: Seventeen-year-old Rebecca Joshi, an adopted girl from India, burn survivor, and primary caretaker of her intellectually disabled sister, Joy, has one dream–to be a physician. Her traditional Indian father relies upon Rebecca to care for Joy while he buries himself in work to drown his grief over his wife’s death. Leaving home is the only way Rebecca can envision reaching her goal. She helps Joy develop greater independence, and is devastated when Joy becomes pregnant. Rebecca tussles–with her father and with herself–over who is responsible for Joy and her baby. When Rebecca discovers the truth of what happened the day she was burned, she struggles to hold onto her dream while wrestling with questions of life, love, and responsibility.
My review: Powerful debut novel. I thoroughly enjoyed this wonderful story. The characters are very well-defined, three-dimensional and real, the setting full of sensory details and the plot exceptional. Highly recommend!