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This month I am sharing some amazing stories about people who have dedicated their lives to Christ. These faithful servants risked everything to bring God’s love to others. The individuals highlighted in this month’s books include a Dutch Protestant reaching out to Communist countries, a Jesuit missionary working with a Native American tribe, and an Italian soldier turned dedicated priest in the 1500s. We can learn so much through their stories.
Before we begin…
In case you are new to my blog, besides writing YA novels, I love reviewing them as well. Every month I post about 3 YA books that I’ve read each month in a new genre. I also send out quarterly posts marked UPDATES regarding news about my own work.
But for those of you who have kids, or grandkids, or you yourself like teen books (like me!), each month, I’ll introduce some of my favorite Christian and Catholic YA books.
I’ve decided to provide more reviews because there are a few things I’ve learned since I had my first book published:
1 – So many of the teen books published by the big publishing companies contain messages that don’t match the values of many families.
2 – There are a lot of fantastic, clean, faith-based books out there – books that are entertaining yet wholesome and reflect Christian values.
3 – These types of books can be difficult to find. So, I’d like to introduce you to a few new adventures.
I am a huge fan of Susan Peek and her series God’s Forgotten Friends: Lives of Little-known Saints. Each of the books in this series brings to life an incredible faithful servant. A Soldier Surrenders is about the life of St. Camillus de Lellis. Never heard of him? Neither had I, but this fast-paced story was extremely difficult to put down. Camillus de Lellis was an unlikely candidate to become a priest and saint with his mercenary background full of gambling, drinking, and fighting, but these characteristics make him a fantastic example that anyone can be called by God to do amazing things.
Learning about this saint and the time period in which he lived was quite fascinating. Please note that St. Camillus was a soldier during a violent time of history, so some of the scenes might be more appropriate for older teens. One of my favorite aspects of Susan Peek’s novels is her uncanny knack for making little-known saints from previous centuries relatable to modern teens. Her witty dialogue, fast-paced action, and compelling characters make these books perfect for teens and adults.
Martyrs (Brave Hearts Book 2) by Kathryn Griffin Swegart
Martyrs is the story of Father Sebastian Rale, a Jesuit missionary who lived among the Wabanaki tribe in the Maine wilderness in the late 1600s. The book provides an interesting look into this time period and the conflicts not only between the natives and the British but also between the French in Canada and the British in what is now America. I was quite intrigued by the hostility the Protestant British leaders had with the Catholic church and the Jesuit priests that lived with the natives. This would be a great book for older middle-school and high school students to understand and contemplate the many complicated issues that settlers faced in the New World. The book is full of thought-provoking discussion topics.
Since this was a tenuous time in our country’s history, full of desperate battles for land, there are some difficult passages that might not be appropriate for younger readers. The violence is not overly graphic but still could be upsetting to some. This is the second book in the Brave Hearts series, and I’m looking forward to the next one. These books do a fabulous job of relaying the stories of fascinating, devoted Catholics who did indeed have brave hearts and remained dedicated to their faith during extremely difficult times.
God’s Smuggler by Brother Andrew and Elizabeth Sherrill
This story is the personal experience of a Dutch man who risked everything to smuggle Bibles into Communist countries during the Cold War era. I found this true story about this Protestant missionary to be quite fascinating. This unassuming Dutchman brought hope and encouragement to Christian communities throughout Eastern bloc countries that had no access to Bibles. Brother Andrew saw a need, felt a calling, and put the rest into God’s hands.
This is the kind of story that really makes you think about completely depending on God. Andrew truly believed that if it was God’s will, it would somehow happen. Many times, as he smuggled Bibles across borders, guards somehow overlooked the books or inexplicably didn’t check his car. It was beautiful to read how so many Christians kept their faith even when their governments banned Bibles, closed up churches, and made being a Christian extremely difficult. This true account, which seemed to be written for middle-grade readers, was far from dry or dull. This was an inspiring story about completely trusting in God.
All these books can be found on Amazon. I’ve set links – just click on the highlighted titles. For those who don’t use Amazon you can also check Barnes and Noble online or www.indiebound.org where you can search for books and the local bookstores that might carry them or order them directly from the website. You can also ask your local bookstore or library to order the books for you.
Next month I’ll be reviewing three more Christian/Catholic teen novels. But if you’d like more reviews before then you can always check out my recommendation section on my website: YA Recommendations.
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Until next month – Happy Reading!