Review of Found in Translation
by Roger Bruner
When Kim Hartlinger--eighteen and spoiled--arrives on a mission trip to Mexico and discovers, to her chagrin, that she'll be doing construction in a remote village without plumbing and electicity, rather than evangelism in a medium-sized town with a fast food joint . . . she has only two choices: "Rough it" (which isn't exactly what Kim had in mind when she signed up for this trip) or turn around and head home.
Will Kim be able to touch the villagers' hearts with the Gospel? Or will her time in Mexico be up before she gets the chance?
One of the things that stood out to me was Kim's personality, and how, like so many young people, (in spite of adult beliefs about them) quickly did an aboutface when faced with the choices she had to make. She went from being a spoiled, self-centered girl to one verging on a growing maturity that was impressive and spoke well of today's youth. Her love for reaching others, especially children, was touching. Her struggles with her language was a real one youth could relate to. Her insistence upon what she wanted and how she wanted it, was typical of many of today's youth.
Other character's stood out to me:
Aleesha. I really liked this young person. The reader could tell with only vague hints to clue him in, that this character had perhaps faced a rougher life than any young person should have to. Yet her upbeat, true-to-life personality was a real treat to see. I love her strength in befriending Kim, when none of the other youth would; adored reading her stalwart determination to help the other youth "mend" their attitudes toward Kim; liked her "hip" way.
Kim and Aleesha's leaders: Rob and Charlie were well drawn.
Geoff, with his self-confident air and gorgeous looks, reacted like a normal today young man used to getting what he wanted.
Mexico is always a setting that can pull me into a book. I love it's jungle, it's big city, it's shores, the danger and beauty. The small, remote village, Santa Maria, with its destruction and people bound by superstitutions and ignorance, was a touching point. I could see the cacti, the villagers destroyed homes, the litter, and the forsaken church.
The plot in this story would especially appeal to a young person. It will draw the reader along on Kim's missionary journey--and more importantly--her spiritual journey. From her irritation with her own father and her best friend's parents, who kept Betsy from going on this trip, to her own forlornness at realizing her reconceived notions of what she needed/wanted, to her refusal to accept defeat and the choices she makes all lead Kim to the place where she can be the christian example she longs to be. It gives her the opportunities she desire to do evangelism. And then, ultimately, realize her life's career for her future.
I recommend this book for all youth.
Review of Night of the Cossack
by Thomas Blubaugh
The cover is fantastic; well drawn to fit the opening scene in Blubaugh’s novel. It shows a setting that is romantic and yet filled with heartache. To be a Jew and living in a Czar-controlled land, is not exactly a dream come true. Yet the images Russia, in that era, conjure in one’s mind bring to mind glamour and romance, an exciting setting for the novel.
When Jewish Nathan Hertzfield’s village is raided by the Cossacks, only a few of the villagers are spared, including he, his mother and brother, and a friend. Both Nathan and his friend, are kidnapped and forced into Cossack service unwillingly. Because he is a superb hunter, has quick reflexes, and a fast horse, he and his friend are given the chore of killing and bringing food to the camp.
Nathan is an endearing young man, attached to his mother and brother, and serious about being the man of the house. He may respect his captor but his hate is greater, and when Nicolai forces him to change his name to protect his nationality, Nathan—now Stephan—despises him that much more. But Nathan—Stephan—is strong. He adapts, encourages his friend, and longs for home.
Instead, he’s forced to proclaim a new home. In his first battle—unprovoked though it was—he shoots and kills a man in self defense. But when he is ordered to Odessa, a Jewish center, he is sure he’s losing his mind. When his captor, Nichai, is killed, Nathan weeps and he realizes how attached he’s grown to the man.
Nathan’s journey to freedom and most of all, to spiritual freedom is fraught with peril and trouble, but it’s a journey that leads him to true happiness.
For a read that will stir you to the depths of your soul, choose Night of the Cossack.
Blessings and happy reading!