One Glorious Ambition by Jane Kirkpatrick

This book is based on the life of Dorothea Dix, who was expected to grow up, marry well, and be happy.  She chose instead to pour her life into others – first through teaching (something she really loved, and she felt as though she had a “family” in each of her students), then by working to help the plight of those who were mentally ill.  She was tireless in her desire to see that everyone be treated well, and kept coming back to the fact that the Bible talks about “the least of these” – for Dorothea, this really was all about those who weren’t able to better to their lives on their own.  

Dorothea became a published writer later in life, and used the money earned from book royalties to help support her trips across the nation, her time on Capitol Hill, and more.  This allowed her to be self-sufficient, but she also used the money to impact the lives of others, not to advance herself (even refusing to allow that buildings be named in honor of her!). 

This book was amazing in the level of detail it gave, and how much it drew you into the story.  It literally made everyone “come alive”, and you felt like you “knew” the people whose lives you were reading about.  I was able to feel her pain, disappointment, heartbreak, joy, excitement, happiness – that’s the sign of a great author, when you don’t just walk away from a book thinking that it was a nice read, but you walk away feeling like your life was changed as a result of what you read.

For anyone who has a heart for others, and maybe even for those who don’t often think about the ways that you can help others, this book is truly a great read.  It’s my favorite type of book, one that doesn’t just “feel good”, but a book that shows how God used one person to impact so many lives.  A person who didn’t think she came from much, who didn’t have many advantages, who really wasn’t expected to do anything but marry well – look at all that she was able to accomplish!  What an encouragement that was to me, and I’m sure it would be the same for others as well.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group in exchange for my honest review.  The thoughts and opinions expressed here are completely my own.


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