Alexandra M, Reviewer
Hey guys! I hope you're having an amazing week and that you're feeling happy and relaxed as we move forward into March. For yours truly, I am so painfully sick of winter and snow. Summer really can't be here fast enough - I can't wait to read outside in the sunshine with a java chip frapuccino. Okay, I'm definitely super excited about this. Anyway! For this week's review, I want to tell you all about a book I found that is a pretty big change from what I'm used to reading. As soon as I saw the description of this book on NetGalley, I was pretty stoked in a weird way. This book is called Crossing Bridges: A Priest's Uplifting Life Among the Downtrodden by Father Ken Vavrina. This is definitely a solid diversion from my usual reading list filled with thrillers and classics. I had two main reasons for being interested in this book - 1) this priestly lifestyle is so interesting to me and I love to immerse my brain in experiences that I will probably never be able to live for myself, and 2) I felt like I needed to read something that would give me hope for the future of humanity. Before I get carried away, I want to say a big thank you to NetGalley and Uplifting Publishing for sending me a copy of this book for review. Okay, now let's get to the summary! Father Ken Vavrina is from Nebraska and we follow his journey around the world, on a lifelong quest to help poor and needy individuals. He tells us about his calling to be a priest and to go to seminary, the first surprising step on his life's path. After this initial period of transition, Father Ken travels to many places, including Yemen, India, and Liberia. He meets and becomes good friends with Mother Teresa, who seems to have influenced his journey and spirituality in many ways. He also meets a warlord named Charles Taylor in Liberia, who he befriends so that he can effectively give food and supplies to the individuals who truly need them. The friends and other individuals that he meets along the way definitely made an impression on me. This story of Father Ken's life and trip through various developing nations was one of growth and hope. His story concludes here with his professional retirement, settling down as a parish priest in Nebraska. I wondered, when he took this last step if it would be as fulfilling and exciting as his previous travels around the world, or if he would find fulfillment in his new adventures. I took about a week after reading this to think about how I really felt. This story is definitely different than the books I usually read and tell you all about. I think that Father Ken is gutsy and brave as heck for his work with the poor and disenfranchised. I definitely couldn't have done the things he did. I found this book a bit slow in the beginning, but it started to pick up when he explained his work in Liberia. Liberia has a foundation and history that rose out of slavery in America, which I found abhorrent and tragic. After so many years of enslavement and cruelty, Americans sent the former slaves away, condemned to a life of war and upheaval. Father Ken's role in this nation was very interesting and surprising. However, overall, I found something was left to be desired in this story.