I have been reading ARCs (advance reader copies) through NetGalley for a couple of months now, and so far, I am loving it. I have found some great books that I might otherwise have never read, plus I get the fun added advantage of reading them before they even hit the store shelves.
Katie Davis, from a suburb of Nashville, Tennessee, traveled to Uganda during Christmas break of her senior year of high school. She was captivated by the people and the country, and knew she would ultimately return one day. Upon her high school graduation, Katie did return to Uganda, and ended up making a home there. Over the last few years, she has adopted fourteen (yes, fourteen!) young girls and has helped countless others get the food, medical care, and schooling they so desperately need.
Kisses from Katie is the inspirational story of Katie's deep and abiding love--her love for the people, especially the children, of Uganda, and for her God. Katie's love is evident in every page of her book. What else but love could motivate such a young girl to give up the life she's known and move to the other side of the world to live in the midst of poverty, sickness, and strife?
While I find Katie and her story nothing short of incredible, the book itself fell a little short at times. Not unexpectedly, the text is full of scripture references and passages describing the ways God has provided in the midst of the overwhelming need, and the saccharine tone felt a little overdone at times. It is obvious though, that Katie's words are absolutely sincere; I can imagine that the way she writes is the way she goes about her life. There are a few cliche phrases thrown about at times, such as "adoption is God's heart", that sound meaningful but don't really carry much weight. These things bothered me more in the beginning of the book than the later parts, almost as if Katie found more of a rhythm in her writing toward the end.
My only other issues with the book come from the fact that I wanted more of the story in some places. Katie had a longtime boyfriend when she left for Uganda, and we realize early on that they are no longer together, but don't get much of that story. There are a few vague paragraphs devoted to the fact that she sacrificed that relationship, but I would have liked to hear more about that dynamic. How do you tell your boyfriend who is currently thousands of miles away that you are adopting a child? That you don't think you'll be coming back to Tennessee?
In retrospect, I feel I know a lot about Katie's ministry, but not a lot about Katie herself. That may very well have been an intentional move, but I also think Katie missed an opportunity to develop a more intimate connection
with her readers by sharing more about other parts of her life. It is often through shared struggle that bonds are formed, so I think the story might have resonated on a deeper level if Katie had shared some of the personal details many of her readers would relate to--the hard days of motherhood, the heartache of losing a first love--rather than just repeating the mantra that God provides abundantly (which, he does, of course...you'll find no argument from me there!).
I may sound critical of the book, but really, I very much enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone needing an example of the good that can be done when we respond to the Bible's challenge to truly love our neighbors--all of them. Katie is a fascinating, inspiring young lady, and I look forward to seeing what amazing things she will accomplish in the next decade of her life. I would love to read a follow-up a few years down the road.
**ARC received from NetGalley for review. Kisses from Katie is available now.