4 out of 4 stars
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Intense, emotional, touching. Three strong words, and yet they’re not strong enough to describe the story told by Cewanda Todd in her book Beautifully Scarred.
Cewanda’s world got turned upside down by the diagnosis that she was carrying a baby with a heart defect. Halfway through her pregnancy, she learned that her baby was missing the right chamber, which is needed to pump blood to the lungs. Cewanda and her husband were given three options: continue the pregnancy and hope that heart surgery would be possible after birth, continue the pregnancy to allow the baby to die in the hospital or at home, or terminate the pregnancy at that moment. The latter was no option for them. Their baby was going to grow in the womb and be born. They would fight to give their baby girl, Kendall, a beautiful life. And as the title of the book gives away, Kendall is a girl with scars, beautiful scars who are a testimony of her battle.
I believe every mother can relate to Cewanda’s story. Luckily most parents will not have to live with a bad diagnosis during pregnancy, with life-altering decisions, with a child needing extreme medical care. Unfortunately, most people will know someone for whom these situations are a reality. By sharing her story, the author gives an insight into the emotions and thoughts of a mother, the anxiety and fear that take over one’s life. It shows outsiders why someone can turn into an overprotecting parent, ignoring everything and everyone other than the child needing attention.
I mostly liked the chapters dedicated to the siblings. I can relate to the reactions of the big sister, who was a teenager when the parents announced the pregnancy to her. I wanted to cuddle the big brother, who was too young to fully understand yet intuitive enough to accept the situation as a loving easy-going child. I appreciate the author mentioning explicitly that, while the book is written from her viewpoint as the mother, she, of course, went through everything together with her husband. He was there as a loving father and a supportive partner. The only things I could not find myself in were some comments related to Cewanda’s faith. I respect the author’s relationship with God, her faith growing during the ordeal, her gratitude for having a wonderful daughter. However, some of the remarks did not resonate with me. This is entirely personal and did not impact in any way the intensity of the story nor the learnings I could take away from it.
I give this book four out of four stars. The book is well-edited, and I found a few typos only. I recommend this book to readers who can relate to or want to relate to stories of hope, not giving up, despite having to go through a challenging situation. Christian faith is an essential element of the author’s story, but I don’t feel that it makes the book inaccessible for non-believers or different religions.
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