Turtle Heart Book Review and Giveaway

Developing a healthy relationship includes spending vast amounts of time in another person’s presence, maintaining the quality of time spent together, nurturing diversity mixed with understanding, and finding meaning in something larger than the relationship.

I saw those elements clearly in Turtle Heart, a book about the cross cultural friendship between an introspective Mennonite girl (the author) and a passionate Ojibwe lady.

The friendship between these two blossomed from a generous investment of time and the willingness of both women to engage in difficult conversations, as you’ll find out when the book delves into heady subjects like homosexuality, religion, and culture.

The author, Luci Kinsinger, articulates her thoughts and feelings with self-awareness and sensitivity. She portrays her Ojibwe friend Charlene as being both loveable and irritating, fragile yet unbreakable. Charlene resisted religion but loved Jesus. She asked probing questions about God and the Bible, revealing an undercurrent of need and longing that Luci found hard to resist.

I found Turtle Heart artfully written, interesting, and relevant to my own experience with diverse friendships. As I read, I became more thankful for the complex relationships in my own life. I was reminded that being surrounded by others different from me expands my mind and soul like little else can.

The subject of being born again surfaced several times in Turtle Heart, and this is actually what touched me the most about the book. Luci and Charlene both had to let go of some preconceived, culturally conditioned ideas about what it means to be born again.

It’s funny how Charlene’s stories have a way of opening my mind as nothing else can. For the first time, I understand her under-the-surface, never-quite-expressed antagonism against the born-again people.

I’ve always viewed “born again” as a miracle of new beginnings, a gift from God. Charlene, maybe, views “born again” as just someone’s bragging rights, a way for some self-righteous individual–a fat, lazy foreman, maybe–to say to another, “I’ve had an experience with God, and you haven’t…

Turtle Heart, pg. 261

In the end they both discovered the truth: being born again has little to do with religion and everything to do with the love of Jesus.


I will be giving away a free copy of Turtle Heart. To enter the giveaway, comment about a friendship that has changed you. Giveaway closes on October 14.

25 thoughts on “Turtle Heart Book Review and Giveaway

  1. Miriam Laskowski

    One of my most valuable, or most impactful, friendships was with a girl when I was in my early teens. She was in her upper teens. My family was going through a difficult time, and I didn’t have a lot of friends. She accepted me for who I was. We wrote epistles to each other often and she gave me plenty of advice, but in a friendly, caring way. We had Bible studies over the phone. Looking back, it’s hard to believe a 16 yr old could have that kind of impact on me, but I think God knew what he was doing in giving me her as a friend. She was a huge influence to my little life and I’m so thankful for the good paths she showed me by her example. To all of you who are friends with people like me, keep on. You do make a difference!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. C Martin

    When growing up, my family had 3 sudden deaths in 3 mo time so it made for changes and trials!! As a teen a married church lady had me over to help “sew” and we could have hours of conversations! Was a blessing! Be willing to enter into others lives and be confidential!! 💗

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Rosanna

    I have a friend who helped me over a really difficult time in my life. We’re not as close now although we can start up where we left off, but life got really busy for us both. But I’m so thankful she was there for me when I needed her. I declare she was a lifesaver.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Rachel H

    God finally gave me a sister when I was seven years old. When she was a teen we became close friends and spent a period of our lives doing nearly everything together. That season was a precious gift.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Rosina! This is a great question. I love friendships but I can’t really pinpoint one particular friendship. I will say that before I became an Anabaptist, I was quite wordly in my Christianity. God has placed several Mennonite ladies in my life who have taught me about noncomformity and modesty. What a blessing they have been in my life!

    Like

  6. K. Steiner

    I can think of a friend who was a real listener to me at a time in my life when things were very difficult. She didn’t judge or try to quick fix it. That meant so much to me as at the same time there were so many “friends” who were judgey and “quick fixers”

    Like

  7. Esther

    I have had various friendships that have shaped and molded my life. One relationship I treasure is with an dear older sister at church. She listens and cares for me, and gives me the nudges in the right direction without being judgmental. I love listening to her life stories and gleaning from them.

    Like

  8. Lucy Zimmerman

    One of the most complex friendships of my life is/was with an “English” lady 10 years older than myself. As a young Old Order Mennonite girl in full, sad rebellion against her upbringing, I met this lady through parties her husband used to host for the young Mennonites. She was not into drinking as her husband was, but neither was she very godly. She and her husband both had experienced God in the past and then turned away from Him because of negative church experience. Our friendship continued through my young married life, and she connected me to, and went with me to a local evangelical church, after my first son was born, and I began being convicted about my lifestyle. But as I became born again and dove deeper into my relationship with God, she stopped going to church with me, and started distancing herself. Now we have very minimal contact. I feel sad, but not sure what to do. We visit occasionally but it’s just a surface relationship.

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  9. Judith

    My high school teacher’s wife became my friend over the four years of high school and beyond. I helped her as a maid after the birth of her eighth child, and our friendship continues to grow. The 14 (or so) years between us only serves to broaden the perspective of our conversations.

    Like

  10. LRH

    I was walking through an extremely difficult time. A dear lady wrapped her arms around me and said, “I know it’s hard for you to believe right now, but we’ll believe for you.”

    Like

  11. Lucinda

    I became friends with a neighbor girl when I was 18. She asked deep questions, made think and dig deeper about why I believed what I believed. It made me stronger as a young Christian.
    I saw God answer amazing prayers in her life. We made a lot of memories, had fun adventures, deep discussions. She was a Wesleyan girl and I a timid Mennonite. She helped give me confidence. No longer in the same community, but 37 years later, we are still friends.

    Like

  12. Becki Sensenig

    I would love to win this book! My most recent complicated relationship is with my language teacher, she is also a new believer and challenges and stretches me to study and think deeply.

    Like

  13. Victoria Miller

    My Ben. You know my Ben. The best friend a girl could ever have. Ben was my first Kansas friend when I moved here 13 years ago. We went to both colleges together as musicians. But Ben has been way more than just that to me. Ben was with me as I dealt and still deal with years of trauma. Ben was with me through so many bipolar episodes. I’ve cried on Ben’s shoulder so many times and he always gently listened and loved me. Ben and I have spent so many times together laughing till we snort and just enjoying life together. Ben was the first person I told when I got saved. I think he was the happiest one too. My Ben has been one of the most faithful consistent examples of Jesus to me for 15 years. Love you Ben!! ❤️

    Like

  14. I had my own experience navigating a relationship with an Ojibwe woman; not understanding all the cultural nuances or how to bridge the vast chasm between our experiences, yet rewarded by the gift of friendship.

    Like

  15. MS

    Many friendships have ministered to me, each in their unique way. But I especially think of my co-teacher and housemate who walked beside me through some difficult seasons. Her perspective often helped add clarity in navigating hard situations, and I am grateful for the things we learned together in those times.

    Like

  16. I have many meaningful friendships. And i cant really pinpoint one as the most outstanding. But there is especially one older sister who has really helped me in alot of the bumps in my life. Recently i have been impressed how God is such a relational God and He wants us to have deep and real friendships with our fellow Christians.

    Like

  17. Beth

    I’m thinking of a friendship that was formed when my husband and 3 of our children spent nearly three years away from home in a church mission program. Our next door neighbors were a couple our age without children and she soon became a friend to me in ways I had never experienced friendship before… as our cultures and beliefs were so different from each other. I began to see things from a broader perspective and got glimpses of life through another woman’s eyes that I had never experienced before. We still live very different lives from each other and are many miles apart but it’s a bright spot in my day when I suddenly get a phone call from her out of the blue and she wants to catch up. Even if we don’t agree on everything we know we love and appreciate each other!

    Like

  18. Jennifer Yoder

    A relationship with a 90 year old Non-Mennonite neighbor lady…I visited her regularly while a teenager. After I married and moved away, I wrote to her every week and she very often wrote back. The commitment we had for each connecting with each other surprised me. It helped me start to feel more comfortable to reach out and develop relationships to those different then me. I’m forever grateful!

    Like

  19. Anna

    My life was impacted by an article written in Calvary Messenger by a friend and cousin of mine. Her article was Wells without Water….I pondered those words and they changed my life at the age of 19. I began to seek God…really seek Him…He in return showed me Himself…that friend and cousin was your Mother! Her life spoke of Jesus and that is what I wanted. I want to continue to serve Him till I see Him face to face.

    Like

  20. I had a homeless friend years ago. She was an addict, and being incarcerated was almost a comfort to her, because there were regular meals and a warm place to sleep. My eyes were opened to a whole other world, and my heart was stretched by her. I still mourn her sudden disappearance.

    Like

  21. Darla

    As a young girl, a woman probably 8 years older than me took time to invest and care for me. I often think how her care and allowing me to see into her life has positively influenced me then and now.

    Like

  22. I think it’s important to have friendships that are of all ages. I’m thankful to have great friends years older and younger than me. It helps me to have a more rounded view of life.

    Like

  23. Colleen

    My sister just older than me has influenced me in so many positive ways. Listening to me, but also not letting me stay and wallow in my darkness. I would not be who I am today without her.

    Like

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