Extraordinary Deaths of Mrs. Kip (Book Review)

  • Author: Sara Brunsvold
  • Publisher: Revell (Baker Book House)
  • Available Now
  • Synopsis: Rookie journalist Aidyn Kelley lands an unorthodox assignment— writing the obit for the vivacious Mrs. Kip, who is spending her final days in hospice care.
  • Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of the book from the publisher. Opinions expressed are my own.

Scripture Connection 

I always let the LORD guide me. Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

Psalm 16:8

Spiritual Themes

Brunsvold explores the question of what it means to live. The answer is so clearly found in Jesus! Mrs. Kip doesn’t live a perfect life, but she certainly lives a meaningful one— deeply in love with her Savior, walking in close relationship with Him, loving others with the love Jesus shows.

Faith is deeply integral to the plot line, which revolves around Mrs Kip.

What I Liked

The Extraordinary Deaths of Mrs. Kip is a warm, powerful novel that reminded me a bit of the movie The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Death plays such a significant role in the book, but the true emphasis is on living life to the fullest. And, most importantly, Brunsvold highlights what that means— and where true life is found. The writing was excellent—beautiful and insightful.

Characters/Relationships

The characters were believable, interesting, and multidimensional. For most of the book, I really liked Rahmi and enjoyed watching her friendship with Aidyn. I appreciated that the characters weren’t predictable.

One of the elements that drew me to the book was the intergenerational friendship. While I would have liked to see Aidyn interacting with her own parents, too, I was looking forward to a book that portrayed a lovely relationship between a younger woman and an older one. Our twisted world has some very unbiblical ideas about how we should treat the elderly, so I anticipated a refreshing read that instead emphasized the wisdom of the aged. This book definitely offered that, and the best part was that the wisdom wasn’t based on worldliness, but complete, constant surrender to Jesus. This is exactly what I like to read about!

I enjoyed reading about Aidyn’s career as a journalist. The Kansas City Star office made me think of the Daily Planet (mostly because I really like Lois and Clark) and the office hierarchy was interesting, too.

The treatment of singleness was neat. Usually, I think of singleness as “not getting married.” In Mrs. Kip’s case, she lives a long life of singleness, after a much-too-short marriage. This was a different perspective, for me.

Evangelism

Overall, I appreciated the author’s treatment of evangelism. I liked that Clara’s urgency to share Jesus was based on her desire for people to know Him, not based on a fear of hell. This kind of evangelism makes sense to me, because we, as people, are empty without Jesus. Clara’s evangelism flows from love, not guilt. Indeed, Clara’s entire life reflects a softness toward her Creator.

Historical Elements

The historical elements shed light on an important, but lesser known, event in the sixties, drawing attention to the disparity between our country’s promises in the Vietnam War and the reality for the refugees. I think it is very important for people to know what happened, in this era. This is a situation I would have been unfamiliar with, myself; however, my mom, like Mrs. Kip, helped to welcome a similar population, in Fresno, a while after the events of the novel. I do really appreciate books that explore lesser known history, which is also a form of advocacy.

Along this line, I appreciate that there’s clear mutuality in Clara and Mai’s friendship. It’s apparent that the two love and minister to one another. It’s not about Clara “saving Mai,” just because Clara happens to have been born an American citizen.

Heartwarming Elements

The continuous supply of chocolate chip cookies was so delightfully cozy-making. I very much notice the foods I’m reading about and was sorely tempted, multiple times, to purchase a giant chocolate chip cookie (And the featured image is our own outdoor pavilion).

My favorite part of the book was absolutely the message, and, in particular, the scene that highlighted Psalm 16:8. So rich and powerful! It felt realistic, the way the verse was repeated meaningfully, rather than simply being stated once. I’m also really impressed that Brunsvold was able to employ repetition in the scene, but in a way that did not feel boring, or repetitive. Instead, it was powerful, memorable, and grounding. That was a scene I really felt “part of,” as a reader.

Content

This is an adult novel, but I honestly can’t recall any “content” concerns. For this reason, I think it’s a great read, even for teenagers.

Recommendation Status

Highly recommended! Although a bit “slower” than the books I usually choose to read, The Extraordinary Deaths of Mrs. Kip was rich with insight. Recommended for fans of contemporary Christian fiction and those who enjoy books about intergenerational friendships.

Published by Stephanie Agnes-Crockett

Hi, there! My name is Stephanie and I’m a Fresno, CA native. After studying at Biola University, I received my MLIS (Masters in Library Science) from San Jose State University. I live with my mom, poet Kimberly Vargas Agnese, and serve as her unofficial agent. We reside at MeadowArc, a food forest in its infancy. I am called to, and passionate about, purity. In fact, the name Agnes means “pure.” Before I was born, my mom felt led to include the name Agnes in her name, and in the names of her children. My full, hyphenated name includes 26 letters (but not the whole alphabet).

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