Book Review: Etched Upon My Heart


Etched Upon My Heart by Jill Kelly reminds me of the writings of Ann Voskamp here. It’s descriptive, gentle, and like a heart-to-heart conversation you might have with a close friend. However, it seemed too descriptive and slightly disorganized.

Eight chapters outline Kelly’s journey from love to death as she struggles with faith and the death of her child to a terminal disease. Her writing undoubtedly oozes love and care as she tries to reach her audience and tell them about God’s love for them as He worked through her life even as her child died from Krabbe. Kelly works through the grief and the questions while ministering to you, the reader. At times, it was a joy to read, snuggle into the words, and sip my tea. Other times, I literally became bored as it felt too descriptive. Too much fluff and not enough theology. Still, the writing was fantastic!

I really loved this quote:

“As I gathered my things, I heard my heart whisper over and over, ‘There’s no way I could ever handle that. There’s just no way. God, what in the world was that? Why? How did she survive—much less triumph—with her faith intact and praise in her heart?” (pg. 74)

Kelly went to speak at a Women’s Group for the first time and met a woman who lost all three of her children. This woman spoke to Kelly. Perhaps it helped Kelly to deal with the raw emotions of watching your child die. From her descriptions of being in a closet and screaming and crying into a towel to her wisdom, I struggled to rate this book.

The writing is not sub-par and the message is important. The books’ organization confused me. The book reads like a devotional and is organized like a devotional even though it’s not advertised as a devotional. For instance, under Forgiveness, Kelly begins with scripture, then goes into a memory. Followed by the memory is commentary. Then, another memory and more commentary. She shares another memory and so on until the end of the chapter where she offers discussion questions, prays, and lots of scripture. In all chapters, she goes from a teenager memory to a married memory with lots of emotional descriptions. So when I thought how I would rate this book, I chose to rate it four stars.

I didn’t rate it four stars because I really loved the book. I rated it four stars instead of three because of the message. Jill Kelly’s message to her readers is important and for the most part the book is well-written, even if too descriptive and confusing by jumping from a teenager memory to a married memory. The back of the book tells me this is about, “how to raise kids in a God-honoring, morally sound way.” Yet, it read more like a testimony as she struggles with a child she knows will die.  Jill Kelly is the wife of former Buffalo Bills quarterback, Jim Kelly.

*book given by publisher to review.