Sunday, 29 September 2019

Becoming Mama by Yvrose Telfort Ismael


Becoming Mama: How I Found Hope in Haiti's Rubble by Yvrose Telfort Ismael, with Craig Borlase
To be published by Harvest House Publishers on the 1st October 2019.

One of my 2019 New Release Challenge reads

How I got this book:
Received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


When Yvrose fled her native Haiti for the United States, she couldn’t imagine she’d return. After suffering multiple miscarriages, she struggled to build a new life. In a desperate moment, she finally met Jesus—uttering her first “yes” to God. That one yes became many when she couldn’t forget the faces of the children she saw in a recurring dream. Finally, a trip to Haiti brought her dream to life when she became Mama to the many children left with no home after a catastrophic earthquake devastated the nation. Becoming Mama tells the incredible story of one woman who had the courage to lay everything aside in answer to God’s call.

You will be encouraged by God’s overwhelming faithfulness to Yvrose’s every yes to God, and learn you don’t have to sell everything or travel to far-off places to make a difference. All you need is an open heart ready to say yes to His call.


Becoming Mama is the inspirational memoir of a Haitian woman, Yvrose Ismael, who gave up her prosperous life in America in order to undertake a new role as a mother figure to dozens of underprivileged children in her native country. At the time of choosing this book from NetGalley I was intrigued by the idea of an American immigrant choosing to leave again as the majority of immigration memoirs I have read tended to focus on settling in America as an end goal. (In fact the only other similarly directional one I can recall is Unexpected America by Wanjiru Warama.)

Ismael begins her memoir in the midst of the massive January 2010 earthquake which wrecked much of Haiti. It's a terrifying event as seen through her words and the reality of actually having being there is beyond my imagination. To then not take such a disaster as one's cue to flee back to the relative safety of her American life seemed to me to be incredibly brave! Instead Ismael relies on her Christian faith to pick herself up, help as many other people as she can, and look to the future. I found her absolute belief in her religion quite difficult to comprehend because it is very different to the half-hearted Christianity of my childhood which never really took hold. Ismael talks openly about traumas in her teenage years and twenties which led her to follow a number of self-destructive paths before finding God and totally changing her life. Her stark honesty really drove home to me how much of a personal journey this woman has made.

Becoming Mama shows just how much of a positive difference one person can make to many lives if they really put their mind to it. Ismael  has perhaps gone to further extremes than most of us would like when it comes to renouncing personal belonging, but I think her self-reliance and openness to opportunity are a wonderful example. Ismael does pepper almost every sentence with her Christian faith, but I never felt that I was being hectored to join that. Instead I have come away from reading Becoming Mama with an immense respect for Ismael and her work. So much so that I would put this book forward as a We Need New Stories recommendation.


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Books by Yvrose Telfort Ismael / Biography and memoir / Books from Haiti

12 comments:

  1. I would've liked to read about what happened to her in Haiti but I'm afraid I couldn't read a book with that much religious content. Pity!

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    1. I was concerned that Becoming Mama might be too evangelical for my tastes too, but I found Ismael's talking about her own faith and life compelling to read

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  2. This sounds like a book my grandma-in-law (that a thing?) would love! She loves reading anything to do with God or Jesus.

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    1. I hope she would like this memoir then. Yvrose Ismael is one dedicated woman :-)

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  3. I tend to avoid books with a lot of religion. It does sound like an amazing story. I couldn't imagine making such a big change.

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    1. Ismael never takes the easy option either. At several points she's practically or actually homeless, but she doesn't give up

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  4. I really love the breadth and scope of your reading preferences. I especially loved that you go out of your way to find stories from all over the world.

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    1. I'm far more likely to pick up a book if its author is from a country I need for WorldReads!

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  5. I find it hard to sometimes find nonfiction which involves religion but doesn't become too focused on that and as if it is preaching. I am glad this one was a powerful read and that she is such a strong woman. Sounds like she has lived through so much...

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    1. Ismael is certainly driven by her faith, and I did think at times she could take more credit herself for what she has achieved!

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  6. WOW! She sounds incredible. You're so right about most immigrant memoirs being about coming to America or Great Britain and not returning to an impoverished country. How inspiring!! ❤️

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    1. Especially with what she has to deal with in the way of climate disasters. Amazing!

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