Book Review: Audrey
Can a little girl--not even a decade old--bring people to Christ?
That's the premise of the true story of a little girl named Audrey, who died of leukemia at the age of 8, in the book bearing her name. Even as a young child, Audrey's parents Lillian and Jerome noticed something different, something special about their daughter:
"Little by little, Jerome and Lillian began to let themselves be influenced by the special signs of goodness that Audrey left in her wake. In their daughter, there was developing---almost imperceptibly---an instinct towards the highest perfection, a great refinement and delicacy towards others, and a deep sense of the sacred."(p. 29, Audrey)
She possessed an almost ethereal quality that is noticed first by her family and later by the many who feeling called to help her, found themselves helped by her. The author balances Audrey's unique, sacrificial personality with episodes that remind us that she was still a human child at heart. There were disagreements with siblings, moments of sheer willfulness and in the depths of her illness--terrible pain and fear.
"By contrast, Audrey was strong, serious, ordered, highly reflective, and a master organizer. She would get annoyed with her brother because she couldn't understand his childish anarchy. 'Hey, you took my notebook!' 'You ruined my puzzle!' 'You're chewing on my pencil!'..." (p. 56, Audrey)
"It was a surprise for Aline (Audrey's sister). Her sister didn't want to take a pill. Lillian (Audrey's mother) insisted. Audrey whimpered and leaned back in bed. It was beginning to become a scene. Aline was amazed, because Audrey did not normally make scenes. Lillian became firm and serious." (p. 89, Audrey)
Audrey brought her love for Jesus and his Blessed Mother to all whom she encountered. She learned lessons at an early age that some never learn. When encountering someone she found to be "un-elegant", she learned to embrace the person and teach them about the love of Christ first by her actions, then by her words. She offered her pain and suffering as little gifts for Jesus and grew to hold a special place in her heart for religious vocations. She prayed and offered her suffering to Jesus on their behalf often.
I must admit that the vignette style of story-telling that was used by author, Gloria Conde, was not my personal preference, and at times felt as though the story jumped from one episode to the next. But the strength and moral character exhibited by such a young child was compelling enough to keep me reading.
It is bittersweet to work through the book. At the beginning, you know the ending. And while reading through, and encountering this beautiful, precious child, it seems almost unbearable to know that the book ends in her death. But, as was typical of Audrey, her story transcends the pages; and by the end of the story--although sad--I found myself rejoicing with her that she was finally headed home.