This is a short review of a book published by my employer. It can be difficult detaching personal opinions from professional obligations, but Silent Cries was a hard book to read. In fact, unlike most books I read, it made me cry.
This is a book about baby loss. I read it in a car journey, with my daughter (8 months old at the time) sleeping calmly in the back seat. My wife and I had a very blessed pregnancy and birth – God was very good to us. Jonny and Joanna Ivey, authors of this little book, have had a rather different story. So have many people. So have people in our church. In your church. Baby loss and pregnancy complications are difficult to talk about – but I think Silent Cries helps us to do that better.
There are a number of reasons why I would recommend this book.
Firstly, Silent Cries is a deeply personal, emotionally engaged, story. It reads well – which is not always the case with books that are personal stories, or books that engage with tough issues. Jonny and Joanna alternate some sections, but their voices complement each other beautifully, echoing the way marriage works, and the places in which conflict can sometimes come. As someone in the early stages of having a family – I’ve been married 8 years, and our daughter is now 10 months old – I was struck by the love these two had for each other, and for their children, whoever’s care they were in.
Secondly, this is a deeply biblical book. Jonny and Joanna gently introduce Scripture, not as a source of answers, but as the manifestation of God’s faithful love and His speech to His suffering children. This isn’t a book where the Bible is unthinkingly plastered over the cracks in our lives, but one where the warp and weft of the authors’ story is seen in the light of God’s story. For example, Joanna writes brilliantly [link to IVP blog] about the reality that God does sometimes give us more than we can handle. And, actually, that is ok, because it isn’t up to us to run our lives. Shot through this little book is a humble trust in God – even in the worst parts of life.
Thirdly, it is unflinchingly honest. In my initial read, I struggled with the clear description of their stillborn daughter. On reflection and second reading, I realised that I was seeking to do what this book quietly protests against: sweep the horror of baby loss under the carpet. Jonny and Joanna’s daughter Edith was born asleep, but she is and was fearfully and wonderfully made in the Image of God, as human as you or I, and as human as she was in the womb when alive. This is a book that made me angry about the reality of abortion – the loss of babies deliberately – but the way Edith is described with love and care by her parents was some of the most haunting writing I’ll read this year.
This book will, I hope, be a comfort to those walking through the mystery of baby loss, and to those who love them. On that note, I think it will be a valuable tool for those involved in pastoral ministry. Thank you, Jonny and Joanna, for sharing your pain and hope, and I pray that the silent cries of Edith will echo in a world and church that needs the hope of Christ even on the darkest parts of Easter Saturday.