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August 15, 2012
Latter-day Books
Worth of a Soul Worth Reading
by Laurie Williams Sowby

The Worth of a Soul, by Ayse Hitchins with Kristen McKendry, Covenant Communications 2012, 211 pages, $15.99 in soft cover.

Looking for a good story of triumph over tribulation? Here it is, with characters, plot twists and descriptive detail that read like a first-person novel. There’s plenty of drama and even romance.

Only this isn’t fiction.

The Worth of a Soul is the real-life story of Turkish-born Asye Hitchins and, as the cover states, her journey “from Muslim to Mormon.” The LDS audience is the obvious target of the cover. For me, though, the part about her conversion and baptism into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is only a fraction of the story, while the stronger portion of the narrative focuses on the theme of constant change in her life.

The sudden and unexpected were a common part of life for Ayse Hitchins.

Now trained as a social worker, Hitchins as storyteller often analyzes her feelings and the reactions of others as she reflects on experiences that have brought her to this point in her life.

Ayse (pronounced EYE-shuh) is the adopted child of an either distant or abusive mother, whom she describes thus: “The woman I called Mother was a fierce and frantic flame who either tempered or scorched but never warmed.” Out of love and the need to protect her, Ayse’s father enrolled her in a boarding school at age 6.

The reader can only wonder at the resilience of some children as Hitchins gives us glimpses of her childhood and teens. She plainly had a lot to deal with in her formative years as she searched for stability in vastly different emotional, physical, and cultural circumstances.

To tell her unusual story, she has collaborated with Canadian resident Kristen McKendry, a voracious reader as well as a published writer. McKendry’s skills are evident in the imagery of the prose and the cleanly edited text. Touches of humor help balance the heart-wrenching realities.

Don’t miss the preface and Ayse’s struggles with translating The Book of Mormon into Turkish as part of a Church team’s eight-year project. Although this book ends with some interesting black-and-white photos, her colorful story is far from finished.


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