Monday, January 19, 2009

Book Review: From Ashes to Africa

I don’t think I’ve ever actually reviewed a book on this blog before. I know I’ve certainly shared my opinions on lots of other things, like PT Cruisers, McDonald’s Sweet Tea, Walmart and T-shirts that feed orphans to name a few, but interestingly, I don’t think I’ve done a book review before.

It’s not that I haven’t wanted to, I plotted and planned a blog about David EggersWhat is The What” last year, but never wrote it. It’s work to write a review – it’s much easier to slap up some pictures of Dirt wearing a pink shower cap and call it a day. Lazy blogger I am.

However, I recently purchased a book called “From Ashes to Africa” by Josh and Amy Bottomly. They are “regular people” (you know I love regular people) who wrote a memoir about their adoption experience. This peeked my interest because 1) they adopted from Ethiopia, and 2) I have been privately journaling my adoption (or not to adoption) experience as well. It’s such a warranted book because people in the process of adopting are voracious for details and in need of material to pass time quickly as they wait for their referrals, etc.

When I received the book on Friday there was a bookmark note inside asking "the recipient" to blog about the book once they finished reading it. The book was signed simply by “Josh” and “Amy". The ordering (which I did via e-mail) , the note, the signatures; zero pretension. I loved everything about receiving this book and could tell it was going to be authentic.

However, I have to be honest and admit that my first inclination was to put the book away for a while because I have been feeling disheartened about my own adoption/not to adoption experience and I didn’t want to be confronted with someone else’s "happily ever after" story. Plus, I had a book by Kay Warren on my nightstand that was suppose to be next in line. “From Ashes to Africa” would just have to wait.

On Saturday, while carrying the book upstairs to my nightstand for its place in the queue, I thumbed through it. It was written in short chapters, one by Josh, the next by Amy. By the time I had made it to my nightstand I had already thoroughly examined all of the photographs in the center of the book and read three chapters.

At that point I decided that I would just read this book first - real quick. In fact, I decided that I’d just start reading in the “Africa” section (the second half of the book), since “Ashes” really didn't really apply to me, clearly there is nothing about being infertile that I could relate to. (btw, I do that with books. I skip around. If I’m bored with something the author is getting at, I have no problem skipping a sentence, a paragraph or chapter. That’s how I read. Don’t judge me.)

I set the book down on my nightstand for later.

I headed to bed early Saturday night anticipating my new book. I opened the front of the book and started with the reviews, then the dedication, then the acknowledgements, then the table of contents, then the introduction, and before I knew it, I had read 100 pages.

Even though I've never experienced anything remotely close to infertility, I could relate to the Ashes section. This book isn't a "la la la - look how perfect our life is" story - Amy and Josh are real about their marital struggles, hopes, fears, triumphs, failures - and I was right there with them, relating. I was so impressed with their transparency. I found understanding about some aspects of my marriage through their understanding of theirs.

I finished the last 80 pages of the book on Sunday afternoon, less than 16 hours after starting the book (and less than 17 hours after deciding that I wasn't going to read it right away). I loved reading about the details of their adoption experience, from the "gotcha moment" to meeting Silas' young birth mom. This book was straight from the heart; it made me smile and well up with tears. I definitely recommend this book. You can learn more about it here, or keep up with the Bottomlys via their blog…the second journey looks like it is about to commence!

…”I had this deep down intuitional feeling that our time in Africa would equate to crossing the Rubicon and passing beyond a point of return. Both Amy and I were excited and terrified about this” - Josh


~Seth and Nancy~ said...

thanks for the suggestion! i need to start reading again...maybe we should do a book swap at some point!
it's amazing how much God can teach you through things that you don't think necessarily apply to you. glad you got a lot out of the book!

MaineMom said...

Sounds like a great book! His thirteen year old mother? Wow..

I'd like to tell you my Kindle died but I know I will not get any sympathy from you...

Amy said...

Thanks for the shout out!!! I am so glad you enjoyed the book........ Thanks so much for blogging about it!!!

Oh, and P.S. Silas' birth mother was not actually 13... I believe we wrote she looked to be 13. :)

T5M said...

Ok, I changed "13" to "young". ...See, I don't always read every word! :-)

Lo said...

i read the same way as you :) i'm a skipper too. i think i may have to hunt this book down... none of it applies to me but it may apply to me depending on how some things go over the next few weeks or so. thank you for reviewing it!!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a great book, I'll have to pick that one up.

Aaron said...

I'm a sucker for books. I'll be on this one soon. THANKS!