An accidental blog

"If God is sovereign, then his lordship must extend over all of life, and it cannot be restricted to the walls of the church or within the Christian orbit." Abraham Kuyper Common Grace 1.1.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Johanna and Henriette Kuyper: Daring to Change their World - a review

Johanna and Henriette Kuyper: Daring to Change their World
Abigail Van Der Velde
Philipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing.
ISBN 9781629952765
Pbk, 268pp, £7.99

This book is different from the books I usually read and review. It is a novelisation cum biography of two female Kuypers: Johanna (Abraham’s wife) and their daughter Henrietta. It is facts plus imagination. Unfortunately, it is more imagination that fact. It is aimed at female teenage and is part of a series published by Presbyterian & Reformed entitled Chosen Daughters.

The book is split into three parts. The first dealing with the childhood of Johanna, the second with ‘Jo and Bram’ and the third ‘Harry’. It provides an interesting insight into the patriarchal culture of the time and gives a good feel for what life might be like in the Kuyper household.

The main aim of the book appears to be to help the readers be true to themselves and true to what God intended them to be - just as Jo and Harry did. For example:
‘Above all, honor the Lord and be true to your heart’. (114)
‘When I surrendered to the Lord, I didn’t lose myself; I gained the true me’. (188)
‘The Lord gave each of you a unique personality. He wants you to honor him and be true to yourself.’ (269)
The historical aspects are then given second place to moral examples for the readers to follow. This becomes particularly clear in the ‘Go deeper’ section at the end of the book where questions such as: ‘What in Jo’s story could help you to be friends with that girl [ie someone who doesn’t have a Christian faith]?’ and ‘At her sewing class, she saw a girl being mistreated. How did Jo stop the bullying and help the girl to feel welcome in the class? How can you help if you see a girl being bullied?’

The book has some appropriate photographs, a recipe for Dutch apple pie and details of how to make a textile book cover. There are a useful timeline and a two-page list of bibliographical resources, which includes Bratt’s 2013 biography of Kuyper and Heslam’s 1998 book based on his PhD of Kuyper’s Stone Lectures - both of which would be challenging reads for teenagers.

I hope this book will provide a catalyst for more research into Harry Kuyper, in particular, as there is so much more to learn from her than is suggested in this book. 

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