Book Review: He Knows Your Name

He Knows Your Name: How One Abandoned Baby Inspired Me To Say Yes To God, by Linda Znachko with Margot Starbuck

[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Kregel Blog Tours in exchange for an honest book review.]

It is not entirely unusual to read a memoir of sorts about the ministries of various people [1], but even among the larger body of memoirs about ministry, this book is an unusual one in that it gives a series of case studies of people the author has helped through her ministry God Knows Your Name, which buys tombstones for people to allow families to honor other people. The coauthor does a fine job of being nearly invisible, which is what a coauthor should be, and the author shows herself to be one of those self-professed Christians who writes a bit too much about white liberal guilt, claiming her privileged background divides her from others, and apparently using her money in the cause of generosity in part to assuage a misplaced sense of guilt for the fortune of being born into a good family and background. Even so, the author’s deeds are worth appreciating even if the liberal white guilt is not so much appreciated.

In under 200 pages, this book manages to cover a lot of ground, and end up where it begins, with the case of a dead infant who had been thought abandoned, but in reality who had been unable to be buried by his birth mother because she was homeless and could not prove residency in order to receive help for the burial, and who was deeply ashamed at having been thought to abandon her dead child. From such heartbreaking stories this book is made, with a chapter on each different situation the author discusses, including a murdered teenager, the death of a hard-working parent with teen kids, the death of stillborn children, and so on. Each chapter is filled with the author discussing the logistics of how to obtain custody of children or respect the wishes of surviving relatives on how to honor their relatives. Within the book as a whole there is a cast of recurring people, including the author’s own family and some of the people from previous situations who join the author’s gravestone ministry and provide help and encouragement to those who are dealing with the loss of family members, sometimes decades ago, without being able to afford any headstones.

The book itself, although small, is full of a great deal of interesting and thoughtful commentary. For one, the author is skilled at observation when it comes to the different ways that people deal with grief, and being sensitive to the subtle pull of intuition when it comes to opportunities to do good to people and to help them show respect for their dead relatives, some of whom had been without headstones for decades. The book is full of alarming commentary on the expenses of burial and on the difficulties faced by some people–especially the poor–in obtaining justice as well as respect for family members who have died. These are probably not new problems, but the author address problems such as contemporary paupers’ graves in such a way that makes it clear that the problems of mass graves and anonymity that have plagued attempts to understand the dead in times past are by no means eliminated. Not only in its gracious tone when it comes to helping others and their complicated responses to longtime grief, but it also demonstrates that media coverage of “abandoned babies” does not often give credit to the tension between the great feeling that people have for the dead and their lack of resources in showing that respect and regard.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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1 Response to Book Review: He Knows Your Name

  1. Pingback: Are You Calling Me Darling? | Edge Induced Cohesion

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