Book Review: The Extraordinary Deaths of Mrs. Kip

Today I’m reviewing an inspiring book by a new contributor to the Christian fiction field. This book is extremely well-written, accurately captures the nuances of many stages of life, and crafts a friendship for the ages. This is a book you will want to stick around for!

About the Book

Title: The Extraordinary Deaths of Mrs. Kip

Author: Sara Brunsvold

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Published: 2022

Synopsis: Aidyn Kelley is talented, ambitious, and ready for a more serious assignment than the fluff pieces she’s been getting as a cub reporter for the Kansas City Star. In her eagerness, she pushes too hard, earning herself the menial task of writing an obituary for an unremarkable woman who’s just entered hospice care. But there’s more to Clara Kip than meets the eye. The spirited septuagenarian may be dying, but she’s not quite ready to cash it in yet. Never one to shy away from an assignment herself, she can see that God brought the young reporter into her life for a reason. And if it’s a story Aidyn Kelley wants, that’s just what Mrs. Kip will give her—but she’s going to have to work for it.

Sometimes, the best books are the ones we encounter unexpectedly. The same might be said about friends.

A few weeks ago while scrolling through Goodreads I came across Victoria Lynn’s review for The Extraordinary Deaths of Mrs. Kip. I wasn’t looking for another book to read, although that is always a possibility when on Goodreads. The way Victoria talked about this book, however, made me want to know right away if my library had it. When I saw that there are only two copies in the system (which is fairly rare), I promptly reserved one. Whether I ended up reading it or not, I’m always up for bumping the circulation numbers on books that are so highly recommended by someone whose bookish opinions usually line up with my own.

The synopsis itself also grabbed my attention for several reasons. First, I used to want to be a newspaper reporter, so I was drawn to Aidyn’s character as a young reporter. Second, the fact that one of the protagonists is seventy-nine years old caught my attention and made me wonder when was the last time I read a book about someone anywhere near that age. I tend to read books about people around my own age or younger (hence my draw to Aidyn’s character), and I got to thinking that I couldn’t even remember the last time I had come across a synopsis for a book that included someone over about fifty as a protagonist, except for a few mystery series that I have no interest in reading. It ended up being surprisingly difficult to read about someone in the last stage of their life, but it was also eye-opening. Almost everyone who interacts with Mrs. Kip is so gentle, which eased the discomfort of reading about situations which I knew that if I were in them, I would have no idea what to do. Watching the friendship between Mrs. Kip and Aidyn grow is such a sweet and relatable process. Even though the pair only know each other for about a week, they build a sturdy friendship filled with encouragement, support, and stories – some that are true, some made up, and all entertaining and/or instructive.

The final aspect that drew me to this book was the faith element. Unfortunately, many Christian fiction books are incredibly predictable in the ways that they incorporate faith and church. This book looked different, and it completely fulfilled my expectations and hopes. Here is one of the most accurate and uplifting depictions of Christianity that I have read in a long time. It’s integrated so fully into the story and characters that when topics of faith come up, it fits. Verses are not inserted at random intervals and then left dangling; instead, they are quoted with ease and built into both the plot and the lives of the characters in much the same way that faith is integrated into every aspect of our real lives. And it’s not pithy, surface-level platitudes, but neither is anything sensationalized or unnecessarily dark. Truth is simply given the respect and weight that it is due.

Verdict

There is so much to appreciate about this book. The characters are relatable and interesting, the plot is unique and enjoyable, the faith element is strong and encouraging (even baptism is addressed well – something very rare in my experience of contemporary Christian fiction!), the dual perspectives compliment one another well, and I cared about each layer of the story. To be completely honest, I am not sure exactly what is holding me back from rating this book five stars. I was engaged both mentally and emotionally while reading, without being overwhelmed. Each time I set the book down, I looked forward to the next time I could pick it up. But now that I am done with it, it just doesn’t feel like a five star book. It may not be entirely fair, but I’m going to claim reader’s prerogative with this one and go with four. I highly recommend it to readers who enjoy contemporary fiction featuring solid friendships, character growth, an interesting (but not extremely fast-paced) plot, and aren’t turned off by a strong theme of faith.

I am so glad I came across Victoria’s review for this book and checked it out! Are there any stand-out books that you have read purely because of someone else’s review?

Until the next chapter,

Jana

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