Echoes of an Angel is a true story of how Ben Underwood lost his sight at two years old, but continued to live his life to the fullest and inspire those around him. His love for God and for everyone he met was constant. He would never let his blindness hinder him in any way, thanks to his mother's encouragement. It was a difficult journey for her as well, especially trying to explain what was happening to a two year old child.
Ben was "scared and confused" when he awoke from the surgery that removed his eyes, but his mother was there for to comfort him:
"Oh, Mom, I can't see anymore!" Ben cried to me.
I let love guide me past the fear and sadness I felt inside. I was ready to carry his burdens, to be his eyes if I had to, and to pray that my happiness would bring light to his newly darkened world. I reminded him that people see in so many different ways, through their touch, their ears, their noses. (59-60)Ben's mother, the author of this memoir, Aquanetta Gordon, never let him live thinking he couldn't do something:
"Baby, yes you can see. You can see me with your nose....You can see me with your ears....You can see me with your hands. You will always be able to see me!"
Ben finally understood. That was the last time in his life he ever told me that he couldn't see me. (60)All through his life, Ben takes his mother's words to heart. He knew he could do anything, including surfing, driving a car, and playing video games. He even had to remind his mother on occasion that he could see - not in the traditional sense, but he was able to see so much more: "She was pretty [...] I could see her heart" he explained to his mother (182).
The book details both Aquanetta's past struggles with God and how she turned to Him for guidance through all of the trials dealing with Ben's cancer and blindness. Through her stories, I could see how God used Ben's unrelenting faith and joy in God to strengthen his mother and everyone who came into contact with him. Aquanetta explains that she heard God tell her that Ben's blindness wasn't for her - it was so that he could inspire the world. Ben never once doubted his purpose, and he wasn't afraid to carry it out.
Ben was very unique in his skills, which gained him a lot of media attention. It was probably through his mother's determination that he could do everything just like her other children that led him to developing amazing echolocation skills. He was able to tell what kind of building he passed or what item was on a table just by clicking his tongue and listening to the sound bounce off things. It was truly amazing to read.
My biggest disappointment was in the pages of pictures a third of the way through the book, which told the rest of Ben's life story. Not that I was expecting suspense or anything like that - it's a memoir. I just would've rather taken the same journey instead of knowing how it all turned out when I had barely started reading.
Echoes with an Angel is an easy, quick, and consuming read. The stories are interesting and inspiring through Ben's capabilities, his unwavering faith, and his devotion to God. Cancer has affected the lives of most people in some way, whether personally, or through the experiences of a relative or friend. It makes parts of this book very emotionally charged and many tears were shed in my read through.
FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from Tyndale House Publishers for this review. The opinion in this review is unbiased and reflects my honest judgment of the product.