Books for Christmas: Holy Troublemakers & Unconventional Saints

Reviewed By Father Jim McDermott, SJ
Wednesday, December 2, 2020

One of the great subgenres in pop culture of recent years has been “Hidden Figures,” stories of people whose lives have made a great difference in our world but who have been forgotten, misunderstood or overlooked, usually as a result of their race, gender, age or orientation.

In “Holy Troublemakers,” Daneen Akers presents short stories of people of faith and action, some known but not often talked about, like Florence Nightengale, who felt called by God to become a nurse and implemented life-saving practices like hand washing years before the medical community understood the need for them; and others who are not so well known, like Dr. Alice Paul, a Quaker who organized some of the first major protests for women’s right to vote in the early 20th century and spent seven months in jail and was beaten regularly by guards for her work. In prison she discovered this written on a wall: “Resistance to tyranny is obedience to God.” She made that mantra her own.

In addition to shedding light on inspiring people, “Troublemakers” is written in an accessible style that makes the book not only great spiritual reading material, but a great gift for young people and others who might otherwise be resistant to stories connected to faith. A book filled with stories of brave people who took the risk of asking difficult questions and followed them through into lives of service that have helped many others.