Entertainment

Book review: 'Kennedy's Hugs' shares a message of faith, optimism and love amid trials.

Posted December 12, 2016

"KENNEDY'S HUGS," by Jason and Heather Hansen, Cedar Fort, $17.99, 352 pages (nf)

Six months after Jason and Heather Hansen married, they discovered they were expecting their first-born child, a girl they named Kennedy. Little did they know the journey they were about to embark on would change their lives forever. That journey is the focus of "Kennedy's Hugs," a memoir the couple wrote about their daughter as she struggled through many challenges in her short life.

Like many other children, Kennedy’s childhood was carefree and full of adventure. Everywhere she went, she helped spread love and joy. Throughout her short life, Kennedy reached out to others, including her foster sister, Anna. Anytime something challenging or hard came up, Kennedy would express optimism and faith, stating that God was watching over her and would take care of her.

Life slowly started to change when Kennedy reached 9 years of age and her vision began to decline. After doing tests, it was determined that Kennedy would become completely blind within a few years. Yet, despite this diagnosis, Kennedy pushed forward and maintained a positive attitude.

However, by the time Kennedy reached junior high, her condition took a turn for the worse. For the first time, Kennedy struggled to do well in school, her social skills began to digress, her speech began to slur and she experienced seizures and weakened mobility.

After years of medical tests to find out what was wrong, the answer finally came when Kennedy was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder called Batten disease when she was about 15 years old. As the diagnosis was terminal, Kennedy was told she didn’t have much longer to live. Despite the devastating news, Kennedy was determined to make the most of her life by helping others. Kennedy continued to reach out to others in love and kindness, maintaining a deep desire to inspire and lift everyone she met, until her death in May 2014.

“Kennedy’s Hugs” contains messages of hope, love, enduring faith and, above all, optimism. It doesn't contain any objectionable language, sexual content or violence, and any information about her illness is not detailed or described graphically.

Lauren McAfee is a librarian assistant at Cedar City Public Library. She manages the social media platform, writes grants and assist with other outreach efforts in the community. Her email is laurenz@cedarcity.org.

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