All a Part of Life – Foster Care Book Review

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From the Cover of All a Part of Life by Shamielle Alston:

“I was killing myself slowly! I had relinquished everything and had accepted the fact that I would be nothing more than a bitter old woman. If indeed I live that long, that is…”

If we are not careful, what’s designed to build us will break us. See how faith, a surgery, and a stroll down memory lane changed everything.

In All a Part of Life, the author shares her experience growing up in Foster Care and the life changing lessons she’s learned. As you read this book, take your own stroll and see what empowering lessons you have missed along the way.

ENGAGING: Each chapter ends with an applicable lesson designed to initiate personal reflection as well as additional scriptures to reflect upon.

UNCOMMON: So uncommon, it will undeniably have you sharing lessons of your own with others. It will fuel you to do so. All a Part of Life will challenge you to find and fight for the greatness that’s hidden within. You’ll rejoice as you migrate from brokenness to boldness. There’s a warrior inside of you…It’s time for you to let it out!”

Grade:

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Transfiguring Adoption awarded this book 4 Hoots out of 5 based on how useful it will be for a foster/adoptive family. [Learn more about our Hoot grading system here]

What Our Family Thought:

While I was reading All a Part of Life, Darren walked through and asked how it was. From my response, he simply said, “Oh, Korean bean paste gel.”

“Yes,” I said. So let me explain what that simple phrase means to us. Early in our marriage we spent two years teaching English in South Korea. There were a few things I missed when we lived there, and one of those things was a creamy block of fudge or a chocolate bar. After living there quite some time, we were perusing a bakery, and I saw what I believed to be blocks of fudge wrapped in plastic wrap by the register. I bought a piece and enthusiastically began unwrapping it on our way down to the subway. Before we made it onto the train, I was biting into the block and feeling surprise as what I tasted was not fudge but in fact a sweet red bean paste gel-like substance. I came to really enjoy this gel on second tastes later after I had the opportunity to try it again.

I read through All a Part of Life expecting a foster care memoir, but this book is not a typical memoir of an individual who grew up in foster care. It is more of a reflection on some of Ms. Alston’s life experiences, the lessons she learned from them, and a tool to use for Christian believers to search their own histories for similar types of lessons. It’s a small (a little bigger than pocket sized) and short book of 117 pages.

Ms. Alston’s writing style is real and engaging, making me long to hear more from her about her experiences and what life has taught her. Like the bean paste gel, I feel I need to go back in the future when I have a little more time and sit with All a Part of Life and glean from it, spending more time reflecting on the life lessons held within and applying them to my own life.

I struggled with how to rate this book as the audience is really much broader than the foster care or adoption community, and while it is a memoir of Ms. Alston’s experiences, the focus is more on life lessons she learned and ones readers can learn from their own lives. As with all memoirs written by former foster youth, caregivers can learn from her experiences. This book would make a great eight to ten week small group Bible study.


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