Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Book Review: Olivia's Gift

A couple years ago I had the pleasure of reading, for reviewOlivia and the Little Way by Nancy Carabio Belanger.  This past December the author kindly offered to send me a copy of her newly released sequel, Olivia's Gift!  I just finished reading this delightful book.

Like Olivia and the Little Way, Olivia's Gift is also about Olivia Thomas, who is now 12 years old, and will be going into the seventh grade.  She is out of school for the summer and will be spending a month at her aunt and uncle's summer beach house with her parents, little sister, grandmother (who I still just love!) and friend Hayley.

Over the summer Olivia learns that sometimes it is very difficult to be a good Catholic.   As a mother, I found myself getting frustrated with Olivia as she gave into peer pressure and temptation, but the author uses this as an excellent opportunity to inspire the reader when Olivia makes an examination of conscience, goes to Confession (the priest reassures Olivia and helps her to overcome her fear of the sacrament), prays in front of the Blessed Sacrament, and resolves to amend her life.

"I understand very well why St. Peter fell, Poor Peter, he was relying upon himself.  Before ruling the Church that is filled with sinners, her had to expierence for himself what a person is capable of without God's help."  
- St. Therese (Olivia's Gift, page 71)

Once again, I just loved the beautiful quotes from St. Therese at the beginning of each chapter, the special friendship that Olivia has with St. Therese, and how this dear saint's "Little Way" is interwoven throughout the story.  I also loved the strong pro-life theme which encourages a deeper respect of life, including the unborn!  I found myself tearing up when the sweet pregnant woman next door, who Olivia is helping, reveals to Olivia that she lost a child (the baby had been named Gabriel, just like one of my own precious little ones) to miscarriage, and is now expecting a baby with Down syndrome.  The pro-life message is also portrayed when Olivia and Hayley try to save an endangered sea turtle nest from the new "friends" they had made at the beach.

"How often have I thought that I may owe all the graces I've recieved to the prayers of a person who begged them from God for me, and whom I shall know only in heaven." - St. Therese (Olivia's Gift, page 269)

Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book and look forward to having my own children read it when they are a little older.

With Easter coming up soon, both Olivia and the Little Way and Olivia's Gift would make excellent additions to Catholic Easter Baskets for tweens/teens!  You can visit the website to read a few excerpts and order an autographed copy of Olivia's Gift.  It is also available at Amazon.


  1. Thank you for this review! I've been trying to find a book for my 12 year old daughter for Easter and this looks perfect.

  2. Thank you for sharing. It is so nice to see Catholic books being published for our children.

  3. Thank you for the lovely review, Jessica! I am so glad you enjoyed my book. I wanted you to know that I named the baby Gabriel after your child. I was so moved by your story. God bless you.

  4. Oh, Nancy, that was so very sweet of you. When reading it, I did wonder if you remembered the name we gave our baby. Thank you!

  5. How did you get involved with reviewing books?


  6. Katie ~ Reviewing books was not something that I searched out, or looked into. In fact, it makes me very nervous when I have been asked (especially by the author) to review a book... I don't feel at all qualified, and I don't think I am very good at putting my thoughts into words, without the help of my camera! ;) I have turned down quite a few requests, if it wasn't a book I was interested in anyways... I just don't have the time.

    Lately the few books I have been sent to review have to do, in some way, with St. Therese. I suppose the authors figure (correctly) that I would most likely enjoy the book, and possibly my visitors, here at Shower of Roses, would too. I have also been contacted by publishers a couple times too, and really don't know how they choose who to ask...

    If you are interested in reviewing books on your blog (if you have one), The Catholic Company has a Product Reviewer Program that you can check out. With this program you can choose from a list of available books and once your review has been approved you can choose another book. I've done a couple reviews through this program and currently have a book sitting here (for months) that I need to find the time to review.

    Hope that helps!

  7. I have read both the books and absolutely LOVED them!!!
    But I am bursting to know if there will be a 3rd book in the Olivia series? Mrs. Belanger is an awesome writer!

    God Bless!

  8. Thank you so much for your kind words, Gemma! I just now saw this. As far as a third Olivia book goes, I am discerning what God wants of me! I just published my newest pre-teen novel, The Gate, which has a boy main character and a special focus on vocations to the priesthood, St. John Bosco, and the spiritual battle young people face today.

    1. Yes I have read The Gate. It was so amazing! I found that the main character, Josh, thought very similar to how I do, (I am also a 13 year old.) He faced struggles that are very much like the ones I do each day. It was a very inspiring book! Thank you for writing it! :)



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