Book Review: Red Thread Sisters

Red Thread SistersWen and her best friend, Shu Ling, have a deal. Whoever gets adopted first will find a family for the one left behind. When Wen finds her forever family and travels to America, she discovers her promise will be difficult to keep. She is overwhelmed by the intensity of learning a new language, fearing her family might send her back, and feeling disloyal to Shu Ling as she begins to form new friendships. How can she get an American family to want Shu Ling before it’s too late. Time is running out. Soon Shu Ling will be too old to adopt. Can Wen keep her promise and find a family for her friend? Can she find security in her own American family?

When Goodreads recommended this book to me, I pounced. While it’s not difficult to find books about orphans in historical settings (Orphan Trains anyone?), contemporary orphan stories seem far and few between. This one was a gem. I devoured it in every spare moment and put it down wishing more authors would tackle similar stories. There’s no high action, life-threatening quests and adventures in this book. Instead it’s the slow blossoming of a heart and a devoted, desperate search for family. If you’re a girl who cares about orphans and adoption, you’ll enjoy this book.

Do you know of any other fictional contemporary orphan/adoption stories? Please tell me! I’d love to find more of them.

Book Review: Orphan Justice

Orphan Justice

There are no easy answers except to walk away. But we dare not, because Jesus Himself said, “Suffer the little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven (Matt 19:14).”

Lots of people know about adoption and are at least aware of the fact that our world is home to tens of millions of orphans. The number of people acquainted with the social, moral, and political problems creating orphans is much smaller. This book seeks to solve that. However, it’s much more than a methodical fact book about these issues. It delves to the heart of problems like sex slavery, HIV/AIDS, abortion, poverty, foster care, and more. It’s heart wrenching, challenging, and thought provoking.

I grabbed this book for my kindle because I needed to read some more orphan care related books to fill up the slots for this months book review theme. I have to admit, I’m one of those people who often judges a book by its cover, and I didn’t find this cover too impressive. However, it was either free or 99 cents so why not. (It was on sale, it’s $9.99 for kindle now.) I’m so glad I read it. The second chapter dealt with human trafficking and had me sliding out of my bed at midnight to kneel and pray for these girls. If you’re a young teen I would recommend running it by your parents before you read this. If you’re an adult or older teen, though, just go get it. It’s a book that will shake you and challenge you in a good way.

Did your church do anything for Orphan Sunday on the third? Do you have plans to do anything for National Adoption Awareness Month?

P.S. Don’t forget to check out my new blog over at Teens Interceding for Orphans.

Movie Review: Stuck

StuckI know, I know. Fridays are for book reviews, not movie reviews. I didn’t have enough time to read a new orphan/adoption book this week, though, so a movie review it is. If you want a book review check out Saving Levi, A Horse to Love, or Bridge Called Hope. But for now…

All of these kids have families. All of these kids have homes in the US, and they have for years. And ye here they’re sitting, waiting, suffering.

International adoption is known for it’s hefty price tag and frequently long duration. Why does it take so long when so many children around the world wait for forever families? This documentary follows three families through their international adoptions, and provides a very personal look at the joys and heartaches of the process. It also provides a glimpse at international laws and treaties that cause adoptions to be held up for years with very little reason.

Yes, it’s true, I cried my way through this film not once, but twice. It’s heartbreaking to watch parents struggle against a convoluted system while loving children they can’t be with or take care of. And it’s wonderful (in a tearful sort of way ;)) to see these parents finally united with the children they have fought for. You can rent it for a week on Amazon or buy the DVD off the Both Ends Burning website. Want to know more? Read my friend Marli Renee’s blog post or watch the Stuck trailer over on the Teens Interceding for Orphans.

What do you know about the cost and time involved in international adoption? What are your opinions on the subject?

Care about orphans? Check out my new website, Teens Interceding for Orphans.

Movie Review: A Little Princess Movie Comparison

DVD A Little Princess [Shirly Temple]A Little Princess, starring Shirley Temple:
This is the video version of A Little Princess that I grew up with. It’s a classic Shirley Temple movie. Though built around the original story, it is not faithful to the book but it’s charming anyway (it is Shirley Temple after all). For example, Sara (aka Shirley) is friends with Rose, a young teacher at the boarding school (not in the book), and Rose falls in love with the riding teacher (not in the books), and Miss Minchin kicks Rose out for getting engaged (obviously not in the books since Rose wasn’t in the books), etc. My pet peeve as I got older (and read the book) was that Sara’s father was still alive (he’s not in the books). Still, their reunion is sweet, and I loved it when I was younger. There’s nothing objectionable in this film.

DVD A Little Princess [b]A Little Princess, staring Liesel Matthews:
This was my second foray into the world of Little Princess movies. I had just read the book and realized that the Shirley Temple version did the story wrong, so I decided to see if the library carried a different version. (I was hoping to find one where Dad actually died and his friend rescued Sara.) This movie is a bit more accurate. The old man next door at least plays a part in Sara’s happily ever after. Miss Amelia (Miss Minchin’s sister), is particularly funny in this movie. And Becky is so sweet. My one complaint/warning about this film is that the Buddhist/Hindu culture Sara was raised in (she grew up in India) came through much more in this film than in others.

DVD A Little Princess [PBS]A Little Princess, staring Amelia Shankley
This version of The Little Princess is my most recent discovery, my favorite movie rendition of the story, and (not surprisingly!) the most accurate to the book. It was originally created for PBS and the film quality is similar to classic BBC films. It still does not adhere 100% to the books, but it comes about as close as a movie rendition can (and, yes, her father dies, and it’s his friend who finally rescues Sara from her life of drudgery). If you can get your hands on it, this is definitely the version I recommend. You’ll probably want to check with your library, though. Used copies on Amazon start at $75.

What’s your favorite movie version of A Little Princess? Did I miss any of them?

A Little Princess

Little Princess, A

“Left just one for herself,” she said in a low voice. “And she could have eaten the whole six–I saw it in her eyes.”

Little Sara Crewe lives a charmed life (figuratively, not literally ;)). Though she is devastated by the separation from her beloved father, there is little else she could want as she begins life in Miss Minchin’s boarding school. A few students, and even Miss Minchin herself, develop a distaste for Sara’s quaint ways and ridiculous wealth, but Sara makes friends of most. She captivates the school with her imaginative stories and consistent politeness. As she says when one of her most treasured games is revealed, ” I pretend I am a princess, so that I can try and behave like one.” Her courage is put to the test when she receives word that her father is dead and his fortune gone, wasted on an investment in diamond mines. Sara is turned into a maid and ill treated. Can she behave like a princess even when she is hungry and in rags?

I can’t remember when this story first captured my heart. In fact, I can’t remember a time I didn’t love A Little Princess. After countless readings over the year, I still haven’t tired of it. The luxurious extravagance lavished on Sara by her father during the first part of the book always fascinated me and engaged my imagination, while Sara’s humility and friendliness make her a lovable person to read about. When she loses is everything, her determined courage strengthens the desire to see her happy once again. And who doesn’t like a rags to riches story, especially one enacted in such a unique way?

While I love A Little Princess, I’ve never been able to get through reading The Secret Garden. Which story do you prefer?

Book Review: Moccasin Trail

Moccasin TrailI’m still trying to work out exactly what to call this month’s theme. Frontier stories or stories with a native american theme or frontier stories with a native american theme. Anyway. You get the general idea. 😉 I’ve decided to try a new take on the monthly theme. I’ll still be announcing one, but I won’t tell you which books I plan to review. There are two reasons for this. One: to keep you in suspense. 🙂 Two: to give myself a bit more flexibility. If you have any feedback on this idea, please let me know. I’d love to hear it! Now, the review of one of my newest favorites.

Jim, if you’re still alive, come help us….If you ever cared anything for mother or any of us, then come. It’s our only chance.

Moccasin Trail encases a powerful story about the strength of family in a page turning adventure from the days of the pioneers. Jim Keath ran away from home as a young boy and now, at the age of 19, is more Indian than white. When he receives a letter from his younger brother pleading for help in staking a claim, Jim rejoins what is left of the family he ran away from nine long years ago and finds himself stuck between two worlds.

Jim’s confusion over how to fit in and the pain of rejection that he tried to hide even from himself makes him an easy character to like. Eloise Jarvis McGraw does an amazing job of showing his struggle and inability to understand what his family expects of him while maintaining his rugged, impenetrable personality. You will be rooting for him the entire time as he transforms from a rugged, wandering loner to an equally rugged but devoted, responsible family man. A masterfully told story.

Author: Eloise Jarvis McGraw
Audience: All Ages (Intended for Middle Grade readers, but this seriously isn’t a book you want to limit to 8-12 year olds.)
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 247

What is your favorite frontier/wild west story?

Book Review: Bridge Called Hope

Bridge Called Hope

Without raising his eyes to look at me, in a voice barely clearing the horizon of a whisper, he said, “I know you don’t love me…You just say that ’cuz you’re an adult and it’s kinda like your job. But I know you don’t really love me.”

Welcome to Crystal Peaks, the ranch of rescued dreams. Author Kim Meeder uses her gift of storytelling to capture the stories of the abused horses and needy children who come to her ranch for healing. From a young man convinced he cannot be loved, to horses fighting for their lives, the stories in this book show God’s grace as the dying light of hope is revived time and again.

I purchased this book two or three years ago at a homeschool conference. I can remember sitting on the hotel bed in the evening with tears streaming down my face as I read the first chapter, Proof. After reading the entire book and the companion book, Hope Rising, that first story remains my favorite. For a girl who grew up with “horse fever” and has grown into a deep caring for the fatherless, these books were great finds, and I continue to treasure them.

Author: Kim Meeder
Audience: YA to Adult
Genre: General/Inspirational Non-Fiction
Pages: 246

Book Review: A Horse to Love

A Horse to Love

“Young lady, and I use the term loosely, I’m tired of your despicable behavior. You have exhausted this court’s patience. I’m sending you to the Chesterfield Detention Center and throwing away the key!”

Skye Nicholson is trouble with a capitol T. At thirteen years of age she’s been in countless foster homes and has a record with drugs and theft. She’s on her way to juvie when the Chambers step in. Skye resents her new foster family’s faith and strict rules. The only thing keeping her at Keystone Stables is Champ, the horse she is learning to ride. What will it take for Skye to accept the second chance being offered her?

I first read this book in the summer of 2008. I’d read stories about adoption before, but this was my first foster care story, and it captivated me. I remember being slightly scandalized by the references to drugs. When I re-read it a few weeks ago, I had to laugh at that memory because the mentions are so mild. But, they are there, so keep that in mind. 😉 The author does a great job of showing Skye’s defiance as something unacceptable, yet tempering it by showing her internal turmoil. This book is a win for both horse lovers and those who enjoy adoption/foster care stories.

Fun Fact: I recently found the first few pages of a foster care/horse farm story that I started writing after reading this book.

Author: Marsha Hubler
Audience: 10 and up
Genre: Contemporary
Pages: 144

P.S. The older edition I read was titled The Trouble With Skye. I used the updated title and cover for this review because I think that’s what is mostly available now.