(Book Review) Hope Runs


Reviewed by: Cindy Akre


Hope Runs

Hope Runs

Introduction

Title: Hope Runs: An American Tourist, a Kenyan Boy and a Journey of Redemption

Author: Claire Diaz-Ortiz and Samuel Ikua Gachagua

Publisher: Revell

Publication Date: 2014

Format:  Print Book

Length: 196 pages

OVERVIEW

The book is about the author, Claire, who travels the world over with a friend.  On one of their many trips, they head to Kenya where they meet Sammy, as he is called, and stay to minister to the children by establishing a running club at the orphanage where Sammy lives.  He is co-author of the book by virtue of his journal writing which complements the journal writing style of Claire.  It is a difficult book to skim because of the writing style and content.  It says on the book jacket that the book is “about how God can change your life in the blink of an eye. ” Obviously God can do that in any case.  After reading this book, however, I didn’t get the feeling.  God is mentioned throughout the book, but is mentioned in such a way as He takes almost a bit part.   For instance, when Sammy and a good friend, who both have trained to run in the marathon, are removed from the roster of runners due to their young age, they say “This is not fair!” (88)  The author misses an opportunity to share what the Lord has to say about fairness. God is left out of that dialogue.  This happens time and time again with missed opportunities for sharing how the Lord worked through various situations.  Though they mention praying to God for safe travels and the like, this is about all there is.  For that reason, I rate the book fairly low on its Christian impact with a score of 1.

A reviewer named Lisa-Jo Baker wrote in the book jacket that “Claire and Sammy invite us into their story…challenging us to see beyond the borders of what we thought life was supposed to hold and how detours are often the best storylines of all.” Another reviewer calls it a powerful story and challenges us to step out in faith.  Though these may be true to a point, I just don’t get that feeling from this story.  I was put off at the beginning by the lifestyles of both Claire and her friend, Lara, as they travelled all over.  I wondered how they could do that and thought the book would eventually share their story of how God had His own plan and how it changed them, but was disappointed when Claire’s biggest struggle was how to be a “mother” to Sammy.  Wondering if Sammy viewed her the way she viewed herself in that role, I came to the conclusion that this may not have been the case.  In reading his own journal entries, it seems he views both Claire and Lara as “family” yet maybe not the same way they view him and what they perceive their relationship to be with him.  Overall, it is a bit confusing, though Sammy’s journey is truly interesting given his background and the journey he makes to the US and beyond.

Since Sammy is younger when the book begins, and it spans a number of years, I would say the suggested audience would be teens and above.   I would place an overall rating of 3 for the inspiration it might provide for those wishing to make an impact overseas and for the unique viewpoint of someone on the “other side.”  But, again, its Christian impact would be much lower.  I cringe to put that down but look for more meat when reading a book that is supposed to change you.  This one falls short of that mark.  It is interesting to note, however, that the organization entitled Hope Runs apparently still runs and is a non-profit operating in AIDS orphanages in Kenya.  I believe their running program is also alive and well.

ASSESSMENT

Rating (1 to 5)

3 out of 5

I would place an overall rating of 3 for the inspiration it might provide for those wishing to make an impact overseas and for the unique viewpoint of someone on the “other side.”

Suggested Audience

Teens and above

Christian Impact

Though they mention praying to God for safe travels and the like, this is about all there is.  For that reason, I rate the book fairly low on its Christian impact with a score of 1.

Cindy is an avid Christian fiction and non-fiction reader, and has been part of a book discussion for over 10 years. She is also a Homeschool tutor and freelance blogger.


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