Genre

Memoir, Nonfiction

Audience

Adult

Author’s Worldview

Catholic

Year Published

2022

Themes

Providence, neighborliness, community, volunteering, paramedics

 

Reviewed by

Courtney Guest Kim

Heaven-Sent Miracles and Rescues is the fourth book in Andrea Jo Rodgers’ series, True Stories from a First Responder. Although the book consists of anecdotes from the author’s experience serving on a volunteer squad of EMTs, the larger theme is that of ordinary people helping their neighbors. Most of the chapters describe a day-in-the-life of Rodgers’ colleagues, on call in Pine Cove to provide Basic Life Support to their community. Some chapters are organized around peculiar characters the author has encountered, such as the man with Attention Seeking Disorder, who keeps calling 911 over and over again just to get the EMTs to take him to the hospital in their ambulance, because he wants the hospital’s ice cream. The responders demonstrate extraordinary patience with this man and a charitable humor that is both inspiring and astonishing, as they keep getting called out to his apartment repeatedly.

Each chapter of the book begins with a Bible verse, and it’s clear that the author is relating not just an entertaining collection of anecdotes, but a deep faith in the Providence of God, within whose plan nothing is a random accident, even though to us explanations may remain elusive. Whether or not these stories strike you as miraculous, they will certainly bolster your faith in your country, as you learn about the dedication, patience and compassion of these volunteers, many of whom serve their community for decades without any financial compensation.

This book is an antidote to the poisonous cocktail of rage, resentment and anxiety that suffuses the news media. Rodgers’ tone remains steady, calm and comforting, even when describing what it was like to stand shoulder deep in flood water during a hurricane rescue of a trapped couple. She is exactly the sort of person you would want to show up on your doorstep in an emergency. Reading her stories may motivate you to be more patient, compassionate and generous in your own dealings with people in your community, even the weird ones. Without fanfare, Rodgers upholds a tradition of citizen-servants who cheerfully dedicate their spare days and nights to aiding anyone at all who needs help of any sort. Some of the people Rodgers describes have been personally well known to her for years. Others are momentary encounters. One especially uplifting story is of a young heroin addict rescued from an overdose—who six years later reappears, having turned her life around, and is now herself helping a neighbor.

This book is suitable for all ages. Although it’s clear that some of the patients have serious problems, the narrative avoids any sensational or disturbing details. Read it to refocus on what your community could be, when you and other ordinary people take the opportunities that come along to help others.

Finding God Anew by Barbara Kudwa

After multiple divorces, a suicide, and a murder, Barbara Kudwa shares how she found peace through her faith in God.

Wanderings of an Ordinary Pilgrim by Tim Bete

Poetry that will take you deeper into Scripture and help you see the extraordinary in the simple.

Broken Brain; Fortified Faith: Lessons of Hope Through a Child’s Mental Illness

When her daughter is stricken insane her mother finds the grace to do what she must to save her and bring her back to sanity.

Seeking Allah Finding Jesus by Nabeel Qureshi

When a Muslim man asks God to show him who he is, he is unprepared for the answer.

Why Reading Fiction Made Me a Better Catholic

How reading fiction became a crucial step in my conversion to the Catholic Church.

Help from Heaven by Andrea Jo Rodgers

In this year of tragedy, Rodgers reminds us of the miracle of human kindness.

In the Footsteps of St. Therese: How to Be Single but Not Alone by Teresita Ogg

A Filipino woman recounts her lifelong journey in a single vocation, with Saint Therese guiding the way.

Best Books of 2022

Our favorite book finds of the year!

Paul’s Prayers by Susan Anderson

A mother reveals with honesty and authenticity the difficulties of raising a child with autism and the struggles that child faces every minute of every day.

Me, Ruby & God; A Journal of Spiritual Growth by Linda Crowley

A beautiful memoir about the love of God and the love of a good dog.

Night by Ellie Wiesel

One of the most famous and horrifying first-hand accounts of the Holocaust

My Life’s Journey by Dr. Margaret P. Price

One Caribbean woman’s faith-filled rise from village to global health leadership in an age of segregation & prejudice

Best of 2020

Yes some good things DID happen this year- Catholic creators have not let turmoil stop their mission.

The Tale of Patrick Peyton

How a humble, Irish immigrant brought Mary to Hollywood and then the World.

Broken and Blessed: An Invitation to My Generation By Fr. Josh Johnson

Fr. Josh addresses some of the common misconceptions people have about God and what getting to actually know him actually means.

August & September New Book Releases

Step into Fall with a Good Book

Milestone to Manhood: A Christian Rite of Passage to Help Your 13-Year-Old Son Make the Leap from Boyhood to Manhood by David Arms and Steven Arms

One father’s quest to help his sons learn what it means to be a man – and how you can start your own tradition.

Pilgrim River: A Spiritual Memoir by Kenneth Garcia 

“I see a small-time scholar and a semi-autistic loner, a flawed man who has persistently sought the Holy. The Quiet One.”

Books to Pray With, March: For the New Martyrs

Every month in 2024 Pope Francis has a monthly prayer intention. Every month we will release a book list that will draw your heart and soul deeper into prayer on these topics.

Feel-Good Books For Pandemic Summer

Book Therapy to chase the blues away