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Dr. Oma: The Healing Wisdom of Countess Juliana Von Stolberg (Chosen Daughters) Paperback – June 30, 2006
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"How is it possible that two women from the past can find such a tender place in your heart? You will be glad you met Juliana and Maria through the pages of this beautifully researched and lovingly told tale." --Robin Jones Gunn, bestselling author of the Christy Miller series
"Our daughters today need to know God's unique purpose for them, and that girls
and women can do great things for God!" --Neta Jackson, coauthor, Trailblazer series, Hero Tales 1-4; author, The Yada Yada Prayer Group novels
"Ethel Herr creates a world I want to visit . . . and to know these people really existed makes their lives all the more fascinating." --Lissa Halls Johnson, creator and writer, Brio Girls series
About the Author
Ethel Herr was a writer, teacher, historian, and author of the Reformation fiction books known as the Seeker Series. She was an active member of the Institute for Historical Studies and taught seminars on writing and research.
Top customer reviews
Juliana is known as the Queen Mother of the Netherlands, cherished for her wisdom and healing ability. When her granddaughter Maria comes to live with her, during Holland's fight for freedom from the Spain, Juliana passes on her herbal healing secrets. More importantly, Juliana teaches young Maria about faith, through her love for the then illegal "Protestant Bible," her strength in tragedy, and her care for her family--including the child of Maria's step-mother Mad Anna. Maria must learn to apply her Oma's teaching to "Trust God with everything," as her father and uncles march off to fight and the world seems to fall apart around her.
Ethel does a wonderful job of drawing the reader into the 16th-century, through two woman who, though they lived long ago, are endearing and real. The book includes historical notes, and some background on how and why she chose to write Juliana's story.
Here is what Ethel said, when I asked what she hopes readers will take away from Dr. Oma. "If there's one thing I want them to take away, it would be this: when we trust God with everything and follow the pathway He lays out for us, we, too, can change our world in some way that no one else could ever do. Don't despise the role God has given you. Thank Him for it, trust Him to show you how to fill it, then go do it with gusto and gratitude to Him!"
This is a story that both girls and adults will enjoy!
Dr. Oma is told from Juliana's granddaughter's point of view. At age 11, Maria is taken away from her place in the court of Duchess Margaretha of Brussels to live with her father, who wishes to protect her from his enemy, King Philip of Spain. Maria is at first frightened because the Duchess warns Maria of dangers in her father's house, where the Bible is regularly read. "Only heretics read the Protestant Bible!" the Duchess says.
But Maria makes quick friends with her grandmother, Oma (Juliana). Oma explains why Maria's father is in danger: King Philip does not want common people reading the Bible or worshiping in ways different from his own. Oma also teaches her there is nothing wrong with reading the Bible. It isn't, as Maria was taught, only reserved for priests. God wants everyone to read his Bible. Oma teaches Maria other things, too, like how to manage a household and use the healing properties of herbs for the benefit of the entire village.
When Maria's father goes to war with her uncles, Maria watches as Oma handles her fears and sorrow by willfully making herself trust in the Lord. And when Oma dies at a ripe old age, Maria, now 21, is glad to have known and learned from such a great lady.
What I Like: The author does a good job of keeping historical details about van Orange's struggle for religious freedom simple and interesting. The character of Oma offers us much historic detail (like how the Bible was available only in Latin - the language of scholars and priests - before Martin Luther translated it) and wise council (such as how important it is to trust in God for everything) without being preachy.
The theme of the book (summed up by Psalm 56: "I will put my trust in Thee. In God whose word I praise, In God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid.") is well discussed in throughout book. For example, van Orange tells Maria before he goes into battle: "No man can go into war without fear. Nor can we learn to trust God without going forward - even when great fear clutches at our hearts...Am I afraid? Yes, very much afraid in some of the places deep inside of me. But, also, I go, expecting to learn to trust God in ways I've never yet had to trust."
In addition, the author offers useful notes about the accuracy of her novel, a few questions to spur homeschooling projects, and a glossary of unusual terms.
What I Dislike: Although this isn't a badly written book, a stronger author could have made much more of this true story. The plotting isn't strong, and I found myself wondering why Maria, after years of living with Oma and reading the Bible daily, seems to understand God as little as she did when she first arrived at her father's castle. It isn't until after Oma dies that the reader gets a glimpse at how spiritually mature Maria has become. The book also lacks focus. Is it about Oma? Or about Maria? Sometimes it is difficult to know.
Overall Rating: Good.
Kristina Seleshanko, Managing Editor
Christian Children's Book Review