Saturday 20 March 2021


When I started writing my blog, 13 years ago, I knew already that I would call it 'Tracing Rainbows' - it's from one of my favourite hymns, and reminds me that God's grace is there, everyday - however apparently awful life might be - He will see me through it.

Five years ago, I published a review of a book called Still Emily, where my friend Emily Owen wrote about her diagnosis of Neurofibromatosis2, which causes tumours to grow all all over her body - and how, in her teens, one grew in her brain. The resultant operation caused one side of her face to drop - and total deafness. Tumours also affected her mobility and balance.  She writes of the devastating blow this was, to a highly intelligent young woman who had been a promising athlete and musician....and yet, although there were moments of despair, she was able to "see rainbows in the silence" and feel God's grace and presence helping her through. It's a moving, challenging book, and well worth reading.

Emily has written a number of books, mostly "Christian Devotional Study Books" in the past few years - and she also does a lot of public speaking - she was the guest speaker at the second WDP "Y-Pray" Conference a few years back.

When she was 13, and the signs of NF2 were beginning to appear, her mother encouraged her to keep a diary. [Her Mum is lovely, wise, and supportive, and definitely Emily's Chief Cheerleader] And now, the Christian Publishing House "Authentic" has printed "My Diary - Emily Owen". - a retelling of her story for children

On World Book Day, I was one of a privileged group invited by Emily to the Official Launch on Zoom. [I know, I was really excited!] Obviously I knew her story, and was interested to see how she did it. As with her first book, she picks up the rainbows idea- and halfway through she describes the consultation where she is told  "We operate and you lose your hearing, or we don't and you die"...and how on the journey home in the car, it rained and she saw one rainbow after another. She knew it was a sign of God's promises to her, and she determined to find something good in every day. And the remainder of the book has lots of #everydayrainbows.

Emily has lots of younger friends, who think she is great [she is] and she wisely asked her niece to help her with ensuring the language was intelligible and contemporary [without any false attempt to be cool and do yoof-speak] 

The sections are short and the vocabulary isn't too hard. She talks about her "wonky face" and injects humour and sunshine, even into the difficult parts. I certainly enjoyed reading it. At the end there are helpful 'reflective questions'

The blurb says "suitable for readers in KS2" - I think I'd want to say 'top of KS2' - aged 10 or 11, rather than 7 or 8 year olds. Many of the younger children I know would struggle a bit with it, I feel.  Perhaps I'm wrong - I know that Malala's book is aimed at age 7+, and that covers equally tough topics.

Because the story clearly involves Emily's faith and her church-going family, it would probably be better understood by kids with some experience of what people do in church life [beach missions, church picnics, Sunday school etc]  However the questions at the end are a good talking point for the reader and an adult to work through together. We cannot shield children from the realities of pain and suffering, and I think this book helps to provide a framework for discussion about hard topics like that. 

So if you are looking for a gift, or a "Sunday School Prize" [do they still give those out, in these strange times?] then this would be on my list of suggestions. It is a bit 'pink and girlie' - I'd be interested to hear what a 10 yr old boy thought of it. At the launch, they showed a video of some of Em's younger friends - boys and girls- talking about their friendship and what they'd learned from her. The concept of finding #everydayrainbows is definitely a good thing to teach children.

At the start of the book launch, a 2 minute video was shown. I would like to thank Emily and Authentic for allowing me to add this to the end of my review. Although I'd be more specific about which children I'd give the book to, I'd still rate it *****


  1. It sounds great. I might order it for school.

  2. I have two acquaintances dealing with this disease. It has taken a terrible toll on their self esteem, both of them. One is nearly 40, another late 50s.

  3. Is Emily related to you? She looks like a slightly younger version of you!

    1. I think that's the similar haircut and glasses. If you saw us side by side, you'd quickly see she is almost a foot taller, and much slimmer. No - were not related at all. (we're both Christians though, so 'sisters' in that)


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