Book Reviews: Love Unlikely, Or Ancestors Are Delicious

February 25, 2019

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Love In The Face Of Isis by Lorraine Marie Varela

Riley Unlikely by Riley Banks-Snyder, with Lisa Velthouse

Eat, Drink & Blame The Ancestors by Ndumiso Ngcobo

Delicious Low Carb by Sally-Ann Creed


Love In The Face Of Isis is another book on prayer: “seven prayer strategies”. It is does not say anything new about prayer, but it does relate praying to the warfare and persecutions waged by Isis. There are a number of Old Testament and New Testament accounts which are given appropriate exegeses. The book gives some brief insights into Isis and the writer has visited Jordan and spoken to refugees. This is, in my view, a “bandwagon book” – Isis being the immediate crisis. There are better books by far on Isis and better books on prayer. I do not care for the concept of prayer “strategies”. It is obviously important to pray for those involved – victims, perpetrators and those seeking to bring relief. It is also important to understand what is happening in the Middle East. It is important to help and support relief efforts. But this book serves little purpose. It is a substitute for real engagement on both fronts. – RH


Riley Banks-Snyder is a teenager from Missouri who first travelled to Kenya at the age of 13. Riley Unlikely is the account of how she became involved in work among Kenyan teenage girls, eventually establishing an NGO, Generation Next, which built and now oversees a school in Kibwezi. Her first trip to Kenya was to visit her uncle and aunt, who were involved in a mission hospital. Here she learned first-hand the poverty and needs of a rural community and began questioning first of all how it was that she had so much and Kenyan children so little. She also began to question the efficacy of the help she could give. She learns the full meaning of the word used locally for a white person, mzungu, “the lost one”. She has remarkable faith and tenacity and shuttles back and forth from Missouri to Kenya, discerning over time what those needs are which she can best help address. There are moments of despair and heartache. She establishes a particular relationship with teenage girls, entering as far as she can into their world. Diagnosed at age 16 with a disease which would prevent her bearing her own children, she finds comfort and strength in the many children to whom she is already a quasi-mother figure. This is a good account of a young Christian believing that she has a mission and purpose and showing the unselfishness and wisdom to fulfil that purpose. This is no fly-in, fly-out mission. It is a well-grounded and carefully planned enterprise and becomes also a channel for her family and friends at home to make a contribution and to learn. A good read and a challenge to young people in the affluent world. – RH


Ndumiso Ngcobo is a very engaging sort, usually cheerful, full of anecdotes and happy to change. That personality is exactly replicated in his Sunday Times columns, the best of which (during the period 2009-2014) are collected in Eat, Drink & Blame The Ancestors. Ngcobo’s style generally involves a slice-of-life look at his own life – sometimes in isolation and sometimes in the context of the community he lives in, family relationships or the politics guiding or confusing him and his countrymen. Sometimes, a dose of satire is stirred in, though it’s never the brutal, aggressive sort disseminated by some of his colleagues. It’s easy to read, often tongue-in-cheek writing, the print equivalent of Top 40 pop music. Like that phenomenon, the mass appeal is consistent, but also the bulk of those songs, there is not all that often too much profundity or pathos in these short essays. That’s not to speak ill of Ngcobo’s acuity – he’s a sharp observer of South African life and his own foibles. Rather, it speaks to what seems to be a decision to maintain a certain tone for his particular contribution to the newspaper’s overall mix. To wit – you’ll laugh, but you probably won’t cry. – BD


Do we need more recipe books? It’s arguable, but Delicious Low Carb is a book well worth having. Research shows that for the first time in history there are more obese people than starving people. This book, by respected dietician Sally-Ann Creed, contains healthy, affordable practical recipes for low-carb living. She explains what such a lifestyle entails and how to minimise grains, carbohydrates and sugar.  She discusses issues like fibre and why women battle with food that’s high in fat. She offers recipes for breakfasts, finger foods, lunch boxes for kids, as well as snacks puddings and beverages. With this book it is possible to make a homemade meal for the whole family every evening of the week and most of the ingredients are readily available locally. – MH[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/4″][vc_widget_sidebar sidebar_id=”default_sidebar”][/vc_column][/vc_row]