Monday, May 12, 2014

A Book Review: The Waiting

Last week I read the Books & Such blog and one of the agents, Janet Kobobel Grant, wrote about a special book project she has been working on for a little over a year. The blog post is titled "Not Every Book Follows the Standard Path to Publication" and it examines one book in particular: The Waiting: The True Story of a Lost Child, a Lifetime of Longing, and a Miracle for a Mother Who Never Gave Up.

As Janet described the unusual path this book took to publication, I became fascinated by the subject matter. When Janet gave a brief synopsis of the book, I immediately went to Amazon and purchased my own copy. I knew I wanted to get a hard copy, so I could pass it along to friends, because without even reading this story, I knew it would be one I'd want to share.

And I was right. Not only do I want to share my copy, but I want to encourage every person I know to buy their own. The Waiting is a non-fiction book that reads like a fictional novel--but it's even more powerful, because it's completely true.

The story chronicles the life of Minka DeYoung Disbrow who grew up on the plains of South Dakota, a shy and innocent farm girl who, at the age of sixteen, was accosted by a stranger at a picnic. For a young girl who still believed the stork delivered babies, she was shocked to discover she was pregnant.

Her parents sent her to the House of Mercy to deliver the baby. Minka was to have the baby, and then come home and pretend as if nothing had happened. But, for Minka, no amount of pretending would allow her to forget her sweet baby, Betty Jane. She knew the baby went to a minister and his wife, but that was little solace for the years of pain.

The book follows Minka's life through the Great Depression, WWII, getting married, giving birth to another daughter (eighteen years after the first), as well as a son. We see Minka as a hardworking wife, mother, landlady, daycare provider, and employee who traverses the country, and eventually ends up in California. We see her hardships and her joys, and our hearts are woven around this amazing, courageous woman.

For almost thirty years, Minka wrote letters to the ladies at the House of Mercy, and to her sweet baby, Betty Jane. She sent money and gifts when she could, and never forgot their kindness to her.

For seventy-seven years, Minka would mourn the loss of her baby girl. But on the day of her baby's seventy-seventh birthday, when Minka was ninety-four, she would ask God to allow her to see her daughter, at least once.

The very same day, back in South Dakota, a judge opened Betty Jane's adoption record, at the request of a woman named Ruth Lee--once known as sweet baby, Betty Jane. The adoption file contained over a hundred letters from Minka. And Ruth soon discovered Minka was still alive.

Ruth (Baby Betty Jane) and Minka during their reunion
My heart broke for Minka, and when her dream is finally realized, after seventy-seven years of waiting, I wept. I've never cried like that while reading a book before. This is a powerful love story, not only between a mother and a daughter, but between God and His people. We see the hand of God woven into every little detail, and it's truly remarkable.

Your Turn: Have you read The Waiting yet?

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