Thursday, February 7, 2013

One Glorious Ambition, The Compassionate Crusade of Dorothea Dix by Jane Kirkpatrick

Book Description:  One dedicated voice to the suffering of many
 Born to an unavailable mother and an abusive father, Dorothea Dix longs simply to protect and care for her younger brothers, Charles and Joseph. But at just fourteen, she is separated from them and sent to live with relatives to be raised properly. Lonely and uncertain, Dorothea discovers that she does not possess the ability to accept the social expectations imposed on her gender and she desires to accomplish something more than finding a suitable mate.  Yearning to fulfill her God-given purpose, Dorothea finds she has a gift for teaching and writing. Her pupils become a kind of family, hearts to nurture, but long bouts of illness end her teaching and Dorothea is adrift again. It’s an unexpected visit to a prison housing the mentally ill that ignites an unending fire in Dorothea’s heart—and sets her on a journey that will take her across the nation, into the halls of the Capitol, befriending presidents and lawmakers, always fighting to relieve the suffering of what Scripture deems, the least of these.  In bringing nineteenth-century, historical reformer Dorothea Dix to life, author Jane Kirkpatrick combines historical accuracy with the gripping narrative of a woman who recognized suffering when others turned away, and the call she heeded to change the world.

My Thoughts:  Jane Kirkpatrick is one of those authors who has the ability to take an everyday person's experience and write it in story form.  I have never heard of Dorothea Dix until I read this book, The Glorious Ambition.  WOW!  What a story!
Dorothea is only twelve but with a mother more interested in herself, her world and no need for children and a pompous father, Dorothea takes it upon herself to try and take care of her brothers.
She takes Charles to her grandmother's home.  Where she is met with great surprise and unfortunately her grandmother believes that they are better off with their parents.  Poor Dorothea!  Trying to take care of her small brothers and with a terrible father who constantly shouts and can't provided for his family.  Her father actually traded land for books!  Land that is worth a fortune for books that could be bought! 
Dorothea has a grace and compassion that lends her to be strong for Dorothea must be strong.  As Dorothea grows she  is astonished that no one speaks up for the mentally ill, the insane.  So she becomes involved during a time when women are not to have had learning or too many brains for thinking.  She submits a report and writes, "Insanity is the result of imperfect or vicious social institutions and observances. . . The lack of order and structure presses people into insanity." (p. 245)
This is one of the best fiction books I've ever read about a true person.  Again, WOW!  Jane Kirkpatrick presents a fine work of art and a telling of oppression that far exceeds the human mind!  A read not to be missed!
*This book was provided for review by Waterbrook/Multnomah*
Some info on Dorothea Dix:
Dorothea Lynde Dix was an American activist on behalf of the indigent insane who, through a vigorous program of lobbying state legislatures and the United States Congress, created the first generation of American mental asylums. From Wikipedia

BornApril 4, 1802, Hampden

DiedJuly 17, 1887, Trenton

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