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A Good and Perfect Gift: Faith, Expectations, and a Little Girl Named Penny Kindle Edition

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Length: 243 pages
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Editorial Reviews


Becker (Penelope Ayers: A Memoir), a Princeton University and Princeton Theological Seminary graduate, knows how to grab a reader's heartstrings and never let go as she writes about her journey as a new mom to Penny, her first child, who has Down syndrome. The author keeps a journal in her early days as a mother, a time when her faith, her expectations, and her fears ran a gamut. Becker tells how impressed she has always been with intelligence, and now her little girl will lack this gift so important to Becker. Or would she? This beautifully written text explores how Becker and her husband deal with the news of having a child with a disability and the transformation they undergo as time passes. Each journal entry opens a new chapter of Penny's growth, and with every change in Penny comes a corresponding response of grateful joy in everyone else. Becker's work is introspective and theologically inquisitive, leading readers to ask the same questions this mother asks herself as her world tilted off its axis. --Publishers Weekly

From the Back Cover

Sometimes Joy Shows Up When You Least Expect It

Things don't always go as planned--especially when it comes to our children. When her first baby, Penny, is given a frightening diagnosis, Amy Julia's world comes crashing down. Could she continue to trust God's goodness through what felt like personal tragedy? But challenging surprises often lead to unforeseen joy, and disappointments can turn into blessings. This wise and beautiful book is more than a courageous story of raising a child against the odds--it is a journey through the unexpected ups and downs of life and the discoveries that come along the way.

Product Details

  • File Size: 498 KB
  • Print Length: 243 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0764209175
  • Publisher: Bethany House Publishers (September 1, 2011)
  • Publication Date: September 1, 2011
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #404,174 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Amy Julia Becker is the author of Small Talk: Learning From My Children About What Matters most (Zondervan, 2014), A Good and Perfect Gift: Faith, Expectations, and a Little Girl Named Penny (Bethany, 2011), named one of the Top Ten Religion Books of the Year by Publisher's Weekly, and Penelope Ayers: A Memoir (2008).

A graduate of Princeton University and Princeton Theological Seminary, Becker blogs regularly for Christianity Today at Thin Places ( Her essays about faith, family, and disability have appeared on the Motherlode blog of The New York Times, USA Today,,, The Christian Century, Christianity Today, The Huffington Post, and Amy Julia lives with her husband Peter and three children, Penny, William, and Marilee in western CT. Find out more at

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth Ferguson on September 9, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
What I most appreciate about A Good and Perfect Gift is the honesty with which Amy Julia describes her journey with Penny and with God. Both the joyful and hurtful experiences are described with candor and authenticity. Though I do not have a child with specific disabilities, reading this book opened my eyes to what friends and extended family members experience with loved ones who do. I would recommend this book not only to a friend or family member whose life may be impacted by a disability, but to anyone whose faith has been disabled by unexpected life challenges. I think this book is a must have for your library....and a necessary addition to OBGYN offices and church libraries!
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Nerd Girl on October 22, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
While I'm neither Christian nor the parent of a child with Down Syndrome, I am a high achieving perfectionist and the parent of a child on the autism spectrum. My own journey did not start at my child's birth, but when he was not speaking as a toddler, and mine was not part of a Christian framework, yet I still found asking many of the same questions and learning many of the same lessons Amy Julia Becker does in this memoir.

What I appreciated most was the positive portrayal of parenting a child with a disability. So often we parents are portrayed either as pitiable or as martyrs, and either portrayal assumes that the disabled child is either a burden or a problem to be fixed rather than a human being who is a full and rich part of our lives. It was refreshing to see someone insist on that humanness and individuality as Ms. Becker did.
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16 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Milk Donor Mama on October 25, 2011
Format: Paperback
A Good and Perfect Gift: Faith, Expectations and a Little Girl Named Penny by Amy Julia Becker is a mother's story of her own challenge in finding out that her daughter would be born with Down Syndrome.

As the older sister of a severely handicapped young woman, and as a mother who had some concerns as a result of the anatomical ultrasound during my pregnancy with my own daughter, I could relate to many parts of this book.

The fact that Becker writes this from a Christian perspective is very telling. We all have expectations of what our children will be like, hoping that they will do great and honorable things in their lives and follow Jesus Christ. When our preconceived expectations are obviously not going to be met, through no fault of our own, it is easy to blame God and lose faith in Jesus. Becker, in her telling of her struggle, shows that this is a very human and honest way to feel.

What I did not like about this book was that, honestly, Penny is a fairly typical child in her abilities and development. In my own opinion, it is easier to keep the faith when your challenges are... less. Had Penny been born like my own sister- deaf, blind and profoundly mentally retarded, along with chronic conditions such as asthma and possibly other health complications, especially as she ages- I can't help but wonder if Becker would tell things the same way. I got the feeling that Becker either exaggerated or told the story through rose colored glasses in the last part of the book.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinion here is my own.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By N. B. Kennedy TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 26, 2012
Format: Paperback
Amy Julia Becker not only has a good story to tell; she's a good storyteller as well. When their first child is born, Ms. Becker and her husband find themselves unexpectedly the parents of a daughter who is diagnosed with Down syndrome.

"The only word that came to mind was No," she writes of the moment of revelation. Moments later, she thinks, "I want to run away. Far away. Now."

Ms. Becker finds her worldview and her theology challenged when faced with the reality of a child whose physical and mental abilities will brand her as less than perfect in the eyes of the world. Yet, her Christian faith has taught her that "every good and perfect gift is from above." Is Penny a good and perfect gift?

I live in the same ambitious, striving area as Ms. Becker and I recognize only too well her struggle to reconcile her idea of what a child of hers should be able to achieve with the reality of what her child actually will be able to achieve. Here we constantly push our children to always work the hardest, be the best, under the thinly disguised trope of "giving them every opportunity to succeed." It's hard to back down from the societal ideal of perfection that we see modeled all around us.

Ms. Becker is open and transparent about her struggle to come to terms with their reality. Yet she also writes so well about the joy her daughter brings her, despite her fears and inner struggles. They are joys that every parent experiences -- all the "firsts" -- along with some that parents such as they alone can experience. "Our highs are going to be higher and our lows lower," her husband predicts.

I met Ms.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By KatiAnn Von Bank on February 9, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book is great for those who have kids with special challenges, or those who want to gain an insider's perspective into the special needs club. I have a daughter who has syndromatic craniosynostosis and we have yet to see any mental deficiencies, but I found an amazing connection in reading about similar experiences. From initial shock and fear, to outside opinions, therapy, hospital visits, support groups, and all the life-changing details that exceed what would be expected in any healthy newborn. While more and more babies are being aborted for medical deficiencies each year, this book describes an experience so much like mine that stands in the face of it and says that these children are worth fighting for.
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