None of the three autobiographical books I've read of late are hot off the press, but they were all new to me. And oddly, these three very different lives have a lot in common.
Late summer a friend gave me a copy of the 2011 New York Times Bestseller, Kisses from Katie. I confess that I took it home and set it on a shelf. It didn't look like "my kind of book." I found the title to be cloying. However, I trust my friend and wanted to be able to respond when asked if I had read the book, so I carried it on a road trip to Idaho and brought it home again, no more familiar with the story of the young woman on the cover than I was before my journey.
Once I finally began reading, I found a rather amazing tale of a girl who, based on a three week mission trip to Uganda during her senior year in high school, asked her parents for permission to postpone college for a year so she could return to Uganda and teach little children there. Katie Davis was born in 1989 making her now twenty-five years old in 2014. That is especially important for her because Ugandan laws require residents to be twenty-five years old to adopt children and she has been the foster parent to thirteen little girls! ***Yes, I know that exclamation points are best used sparingly. I think I have have restrained myself greatly using only one; considering the information contained in my last sentence, perhaps there should have been thirteen of them.***
Dr. Carson, born in 1951, was one of two sons of a working mother in inner-city Detroit. The book opens with a letter to the reader from Sonya Carson who writes:
Dear Reader, As the mother of Ben and his brother, Curtis, I had a lot of challenges. Being one of twenty-four children, married at age thirteen, and later having to get a divorce after finding out my husband was a bigamist were just a few of them....
Ben Carson begins his story sharing his childhood struggles with a convincing vulnerability. I had read on the back jacket that he became director of pediatric neurosurgery at John Hopkins Medical Institutions at age thirty-three, but I found little hint of that possibility as I read the chapters about his young life. I also had no idea how much brain surgery explanation I was getting myself into, but once I began this book there was no way I going to skip over any of it. In addition to his passion as a surgeon, Dr. Carson offers himself as a motivational speaker for young people. He believes that "With the right help and the right incentive, many disadvantaged kids could achieve outstanding results." He certainly has.
I am recommending these books to you. I am reticent to tell you much about their journeys as they are so personal and I want to neither add nor take away from the narrative of these brave souls. Each one of them hopes to make the world a safer and better realm for others and to tell their respective stories they have to trust the reader to look beyond cultural or emotive differences. These three lives with not a word written of them already represent tremendous giving and impact in the world. Sharing one's story is an additional gift, a tremendous vulnerability and I am glad to have been a recipient.
I 'll be interested if you have read any of these books.
If you haven't read Mr. Yousef's book, start there, it's truly a challenging and powerful story and ever so pertinent to trouble stalking our globe. I am already thinking of rereading it.
By the way, each of these books had an acknowledged co-writer:
Katie Davis with Beth Clark
Ben Carson with Cecil Murphy
Mosab Hassan Yousef with Ron Bracken