They say that the measure of a good children’s book—or a young reader’s chapter book, as the case may be—is that both children and adults find the story compelling, that it stirs within them a desire to be something more than what they already are. Patti Maguire Armstrong’s new book, Dear God, I Don’t Get It, certainly does just that. I was only a few pages into the story when I began underlining passages that I either identified with (What adult hasn’t felt let down by God at some point in their life?) or felt served as a gentle reminder to me of God’s enduring faithfulness. But I would be doing a disservice to Armstrong and the wonderful story she has created if I led you to believe that the merits of this book stopped there.
Dear God, I Don’t Get It tells the story of Aaron Ajax, a sixth grader from Kalispell, Montana, who comes home one afternoon after playing baseball with his best friends and learns that his father has lost his job. Despite Aaron’s fervent prayers that God would provide a job for his dad and that his family would be able to stay in Kalispell, Aaron’s family is relocated to Bismarck, North Dakota. Still reeling from the sting of unanswered prayer and feeling as though God doesn’t care about him, Aaron finds himself, the new kid in town, struggling with honesty, forgiveness, and trusting in God. But through his many trials, many of which are humorous in a way reminiscent of a Judy Blume novel, Aaron comes to understand that:
“…we can do the asking, but God does the directing. Prayer is about uniting ourselves with God’s will and not the other way around. We just keep asking for His help along the way and accept His plan for us.”
As the mother of young children, I have to say that beauty of this book is that it affirms the fact that children at times wrestle with heavy spiritual questions. Dear God, I Don’t Get It gives them a realistic situation in which a child, just like them, struggles with disappointment and questions the efficacy of prayer. As they walk alongside Aaron Ajax, they begin to see how it is that all things can work together for the good of those who love the Lord.
In what I believe is a current dearth of well-written, spiritually inspiring, and orthodox children’s literature Armstrong’s Dear God, I Don’t Get It is a most welcomed addition to the list of books I would encourage every child (ages 8 to 12) read, and l truly hope to read more stories about the Ajax family in the near future!
Rebekah Durham Hart is a relatively recent convert to Catholicism. After graduating from Columbia Theological Seminary (a Presbyterian Seminary in Decatur, GA) in 2002 and working within various ministries of the United Methodist Church, she entered into full communion with the Catholic Church in 2006. She has shared her conversion story with Gus Lloyd on Sirius XM’s Catholic Channel.
Rebekah is currently a stay-at-home mom and, when she is not stepping on her son’s Legos or having tea parties with her two little girls, she blogs at: http://instinctivephilosophies.com/.
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