4 out of 4 stars
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"God is in the business of completely rearranging the makeup of our mistakes. What we consider shameful, He uses for His glory."
Tori Shaw shares how she found healing from years of suffering guilt, addiction, anxiety, and depression after a traumatic abortion in I Had A Secret For Seventeen Years. With heartfelt honesty, she reveals a childhood characterized by rejection, feelings of abandonment, and a desperate need for approval from others that contributed to becoming pregnant at sixteen. She recounts her experiences before and after the abortion, including observations about the clinic and other patients, the painful procedure performed by an insensitive female doctor, and her journey to recovery. Shaw also details how God used her story to help others by starting "Not Forgotten Ministries."
Shaw writes from a place of compassion and empathy. While she describes post-abortive women as the missing key to the pro-life movement, she stresses the need for all women to be treated compassionately, whether they are considering abortion or have had one in the past. Shaw poignantly expresses the guilt and shame she felt and her need to shroud her abortion in secrecy for years. The fact that she and her husband didn't discuss their aborted baby for 13 years illustrates how deeply she buried her pain. Shaw remembers feeling a weight lifted after their conversation. However, despite being a blogger and a magazine contributor, it would be several more years before she felt secure enough to share her experience publicly. Shaw was elated when she received an outpouring of support from readers with similar experiences.
I especially like Shaw's sensitivity as she shares her story. She transparently reveals her abortion experience without any hint of condemnation or judgment. Although Shaw writes from a Christian perspective, her story is relatable on a level that transcends religious beliefs and partisanship. I know women who have experienced similar post-abortive experiences; readers do not necessarily need to be pro-life to take away healing words from Shaw's redemptive story.
Likewise, photographs from the "After the Abortion" series by Angela Forker powerfully convey Shaw's story visually. To clarify, these are not explicit photographs related to the abortion procedure. Instead, Forker captures Shaw in a series of conceptual images wearing a hospital gown in the actual building that once housed the clinic where her abortion was performed.
The only thing I disliked was that the PDF I received contained visible marked-out corrections throughout the book. However, this appears to be a formatting issue; the the blue markings were visible on one of my devices but not the other nor the Amazon sample. Despite this minor inconsistency, I noted only a handful of grammatical errors.
Overall, Shaw presents an evocative and well-written narrative, and I rate I Had a Secret for Seventeen Years 4 out of 4 stars. I recommend this story of redemption to Christian readers and those with similar experiences. As I stated previously, Shaw compassionately addresses a hot-button issue, which may appeal to readers of various faiths and political beliefs. However, sensitive readers should note that Shaw includes detailed memories of her abortion procedure.
I Had A Secret For Seventeen Years
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