Friday, October 14, 2016

Book Review: A Bird, a Girl, and a Rescue

A Bird, a Girl, and a Rescue by J. A. Myhre
New Growth Press (2016); 128 pp.

I wasn't into adventure stories as a kid, but A Bird, a Girl, and a Rescue might well have been an exception. I certainly relished it at the age of 33!

While there's riveting action, the novel isn't limited to Kiisa's rescue expedition on behalf of an abducted classmate. Most of all, this is a story about character, trusting God, and growing up. Without being moralistic or heavy-handed, Kiisa models walking in obedience, even when the path is unclear—even when obedience isn't fun.

In brief, A Bird, a Girl, and a Rescue is the story (a creation of seasoned missionary J. A. Myhre) of eleven-year-old Kiisa as she begins studying at a culturally unfamiliar boarding school. In addition to loneliness, Kiisa must deal with bullies, being the girl on the boys' football (soccer) team, and the threat of rebel forces who have no scruples about terrorizing children. There are even appearances by talking animals (the Messengers) who accompany Kiisa on her journey. I admit, this latter detail almost discouraged me from reading the book—I don't always enjoy fantastical elements. But I thought the bird Njili was a clever addition to the story, rather than the distraction I'd expected. Even with Njili's encouragement, Kiisa still has to walk by faith and figure out her next steps for herself!

Aside from simply talented storytelling, what I admired most was Myhre’s ability to forge a setting that felt both familiar and very new. For instance, for all the parts of Kiisa's world that were unfamiliar to me, I could identify with her anxieties about fitting into a new community. This meant that the plot sucked me in from the first pages, and I think the same would be true for lots of kids.

While I'm not an expert on middle grades/young adult literature, I think this book would be enjoyed by many preteens, as well as those a little older or younger. It could also be a wonderful story for families to read and talk about together (indeed, given some of the frightening events, that might be a good idea for younger kids). By all means, enjoy this story for yourself, then pass it along to a niece or a kid at church. You'll both be edified as you see God at work among the Messengers and in Kiisa’s courageous heart.

The publisher provided me with a review copy of this book, and I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.