Saturday, April 4, 2009

Save My Children: CFRB Review

This month, CFRB is touring Emily Wierenga's Save My Children. The stock summary is

Save My Children is a fictional retelling of the true story of Harvey and Elsie Jespersen, the founders of Bethany Homes for Children. The Jespersens’ desire was simple: to provide a safe place for any child needing a family. Save My Children traces the lives of battered and mistreated kids who were cared for at Bethany Homes. From 1948-1991, the Jespersens fostered over 800 children, taking up to fifty-five kids at a time. The Homes consisted of old army barracks based on forty two acres of farmland. Through hard work, determination and patience, the Jespersens transformed those barracks into a place of refuge for generations of children. Refusing to take any payment except what parents could afford, Harvey and Elsie depended on faith and the generosity of others to see them through. Save My Children powerfully demonstrates love's ability to transform brokenness into beauty.

That's a reasonably compact summary, and accurate, too. But as usual, I'll mention a few points others may not.

Pace. This is not a fast book, in my opinion. It's better read a few chapters at a time over the course of several weeks. But in a sense it can therefore be read alongside (probably not as part of) devotional reading. Or if your family reads out stories, your kids are in their teens, and you don't mind discussions, this could be a good family book. (Read it through first, however.)

Feel. In general, the documentary feel is strong enough you'll forget this is fiction--or rather, that it's fictionalized. Names have been changed, etc., but this is essentially a true story. The emphasis is more on the problem the kids had before arriving at Bethany Homes, so sometimes the resolution may not be as strong as you might expect. But if you're thinking in terms of what's called "slice of life," it works quite well.

I should mention that this is Emily Wierenga's first book, but she does a good job. Also, the revenues from the book go to help out Bethany Homes for Children, so it's a good read in a good cause.

1 comment:

David said...

I wasn't aware you'd be doing a review, but since you read it as part of the Preview Team I should have known better. Excellent review, by the way, with a good balance between the detractor elements and the compelling elements in the story. I guess I'd have to say it's not just one story, but a collection of stories. I also found reading a few chapters a night helped me stay focused and appreciate this much better than if I tried to read it straight through.

David Brollier

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