Nadzieja: The Story of a Girl Named Hope, Na­dzieja Jadwiga McMillan. (Crown & Covenant Pub­lications: Pittsburgh, PA, 2012). 413 pages. ISBN: 1884527345. [Reviewed by Elizabeth Ensink.]

Imagine how you would react if your mother left you at an orphanage full of strangers without say­ing good-bye. Imagine what it would be like to go to America but leave all your friends and family behind in poverty. Imagine uprooting your family and mov­ing across the country countless times for the sake of the church. Finally, imagine an elderly woman named Nadzieja sitting in her small apartment room writing down these amazing events in her life. If you can imag­ine all that, you will get a good idea of what her auto­biography, Nadzieja: The Story of a Girl Named Hope, is like. This book shows us what it truly means to put our trust in the Lord and is an excellent example of how we should devote our whole lives to Him.

Nadzieja’s autobiography is not meant to captivate an audience with a suspenseful plot or rich descriptions. It is simply the story of a girl who becomes a faithful woman of God. She does not delve into details con­cerning the doctrines that she believes, yet almost every chapter contains the words of a hymn, Bible passage, or prayer to express how she felt. Sometimes the order of events can be confusing, and the many Polish names can be hard to pronounce, but although these things make the book harder to read, they do not detract from the overall message. In her humble style, Nadzieja tells her story like it happened and leaves the reader with a memorable and inspiring impression of her unwavering hope in God.

Nadzieja’s story begins with the story of her parents and how she became a Christian because of them. Nadzieja was born in Russia, but when she was only a few years old, her mother became a widow and the atheistic communist party took over the country. Her mother had to make the difficult decision to leave the relative prosper­ity and certainty of their home in Russia for the sake of her three children’s faith. The way Nadzieja explains it is striking: “She resolved that she would rather see her chil­dren starve to death than to grow up to become atheists, brainwashed about the existence of God.” They moved to Poland; but with no food or income to keep them alive, her mother had to send the children to an orphanage. There Nadzieja is taught the truth of Scripture and grows up with the same outstanding faith of her mother. Many stories of her time at the orphanage are humorous, but there were plenty of struggles for her also. Yet in every trial Nadzieja turns to God in prayer.

As Nadzieja matures, her story becomes an amazing example of God’s providence in her life. Because of her gift of singing, Nadzieja gets accepted into a Polish choir that is traveling to America. Through this she is saved from the poverty and turmoil of Poland during World War II. Although she must live in an unfamiliar country, Nadzieja’s faith remains and she finds comfort knowing that God has His church in America also. Na­dzieja’s story then shows us how God worked in her life to give her a free college education, an American family to care for her, and eventually a God-fearing family of her own. Once again, Nadzieja gives all the credit and thanks to God for these blessings.

The final section of the book describes her life as a minister’s wife in the Reformed Presbyterian Church and the work they did in churches across the country. No matter where they went, Nadzieja’s family was welcomed by members of a body of Christ that cared for one another and were eager for the preaching of the truth. Even the young people were willing to serve and looked forward to Bible studies and church events. This book gives us an excellent example of how we ought to view the church and the members of it.

In the face of tragedy, triumph, and undeserved love, Nadzieja’s story consistently shows what it means to devote our whole lives to God. Her name means “hope,” and if you read her story you will see exactly what can happen when hope is put in the right place.