Found in Translation by Roger Bruner with Kristi Rae Bruner is a teen novel about Kim Hartlinger, a spoiled eighteen-year-old who is going on a mission trip to Mexico where God transforms her to be more like Him. This novel was interesting to read, especially considering the fact that while I was reading it, I was preparing for my first short term mission trip! (Plus I am 18 and recently graduated from highschool...like Kim :).)
In my opinion, the characters in this book make very sudden changes in the way they behave...yes, there are reasons but it still seems way more immediate than it would be in real life.
The interaction between Kim and her newfound friend Aleesha is cute and fun to read. I like that the author(s) didn't paint either a rosy or depressing picture of missions. They showed that there are joys and challenges. It's hard work but it's so worth it. And God can use you in ways you may never have imagined. This book illustrates the need to be flexible, obedient, forgiving, and to trust in God. To be willing (and want to) do things His way and not stubbornly cling to what we think is best. Even though this is fiction, it was great to see how much could be accomplished, by the grace of God, when a group of Christians worked together as a unified team.
Every once in a while I enjoy reading a book with a main character that I can't totally relate to (not at first, anyway). When this urge strikes, I usually turn to contemporary YA fiction because while at the end of the book, we may have more in common than I expected, at the beginning most contemporary teens are either self-centered or just on the wrong track.
On page one of Found in Translation, Kim Hartlinger is both.
Kim's story begins with the distressing news that she has missed her flight to Dallas/Fort Worth (though the author kept me rolling with laughter through this account). When she finally arrives at her destination, she finds one leader of her mission trip disgruntled and a passel of teens, all of which are aggravated with her for setting them behind schedule. That's the not the worst of it. Kim discovers that her plans for the next two weeks in Mexico are being radically altered. Instead of Silver City, they are going to Santa Maria, which boasts no beds, no facilities, and most importantly, no translator.
The mission team is well equipped to supply the citizens of tornado-ravaged Santa Maria with new buildings in which to live. But the language barrior leaves them unable to tell the villagers the reason they have come or Who sent them.
What I Didn't Love As Much
The author's style lends itself well to the story and Kim's accounting of the mission team is an enthralling one that kept me turning the pages. However, more often than I would have liked, the tense of the sentences turned from past to present. At one point I found myself flipping through the pages trying to figure out whether or not this book is a journal Kim kept throughout the trip or what.
Some important scenes seemed skipped over and towards the end I felt like Kim was telling me what was going on instead of showing me.
Also, there were two instances in which Kim talked to an Angel and the introductions to these scenes left me skeptical. Whether or not she really spoke with an Angel or dreamed it is unclear, even to Kim.
Why I Recommend This Book
Kim is exactly what the back cover claims: spoiled. At least as spoiled as the average American high school grad who has always enjoyed indoor plumbing and microwaves. The way that she develops relationships with the villagers, especially with her friend Anjelita, is endearing and portrays how the trip impacts Kim. She makes a dramatic turn-around from self-absorbed makeup-addict to deciding to major in Spanish so that she can return to Santa Maria.
Also, Kim learns a lot about faith, obedience, and forgiveness. Her relationship with God leads to an engaging (and two-way) prayer life. She exercises forgiveness with a trying fellow team member. Most importantly, though, is the "big mission" she takes on, wholly depending on God to make things work.
Disclaimer: I received this book from the author in return for an honest review.
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Kim heads off on a mission trip adventure that will be filled with what she knows she does best: evangelism. Only Kim missed the memo. The trip was changed and is no longer the one she signed up for. Instead of going to a Mexican city to tell people about Jesus, she is sent to a remote village to do construction work. Kim starts out with a seriously disgruntled attitude about the misunderstanding until she remembers why she signed up in the first place.
I enjoyed this story, especially that it was inspired by Kristi Rae Bruner's experiences in Mexico. I adore missionaries and love to hear about people who went on mission trips and how God works in those places. There were a few places in the storytelling where I got confused. Suddenly we were told that something had happened and we read about it after the fact. In a way that gave kind of a journal-like feel to the story.
Still, I would have liked to have been there for the action in the scene when Kim got hurt, not just to have heard about it after it happened. Kim's rollercoaster personality amused me, how she'd be a bit of a brat one moment and a humble servant the next. The girl was the real deal, that's for sure. I know I have moments where I do and say things I wish I could take back. (And still wish I could take them back years later_) Overall, I found this to be an enjoyable story with a great message, and I can't wait to see what happens to Kim in book two.
Great read for any teen who has been or wants to go on a mission trip. Kim starts out with several oversized suitcases and all the essentials of life (hair dryer, cute clothes, etc.) And, she has big plans for what she wants to accomplish on her mission trip. A few blunders on her part and a few mishaps and the mission trip is anything but what she thought it would be. The characters change not only the town they are helping, but change themselves as they learn to follow God instead of their own ideas of what to accomplish.
Take a self-absorbed 18-year-old girl on a mission trip to an extremely remote Mexican village and you may have a recipe for disaster. Roughing it is not part of her vocabulary or lifestyle, yet Kim Hartlinger (appropriate name, don't you think?) surprises herself as she adapts and proves equal to the tasks God puts in her path. Found in Translation by Roger Bruner, written with his daughter Kristi Rae, found this reader excited to be along for the journey.
Each unique individual is believably portrayedÃ¢â¬âfoibles, failures, fears, and finding the way. It's a story of growth and exploring relationships as well as the maturing process. But don't think it's all serious and too churchy. Found in Translation is a fun read, like listening to a close friend share personal experiences, including the funny and the embarrassing along with the full truth. Kim's first person narration reveals her heart and her dreams while telling of her two-week adventure. She also develops a close friendship with an African-American girl, which adds a deeper dynamic to her experience.
Although marketed as YA, this touching story speaks to adults too. It will challenge and encourage believers to follow Kim's example of surrender and obedience to the Lord's leading. I suggest youth groups read this before heading out on that short-term mission. It would also be insightful for graduating teens before heading off to college. I look forward to the Bruners' next well-written installment in their Altered Hearts series.