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Mountains of Our Own: A Teen’s Journey to Find Her Gift

Mountains of our own book cover


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Book Review

Fifteen-year-old Faith has struggled with the daily agonies of epilepsy for a decade now. Still, she’s been able to gain dear friends and enjoy life with them. But they all have special gifts while she … doesn’t seem to have any. Did God overlook her?

Plot Summary

Except for her fiery red hair, 15-year-old Faith doesn’t really stand out as anything special. A stranger would pass by her without a second thought.

But Faith is different. She has epilepsy.

You’ve probably heard about epilepsy and know that it’s a “seizure disorder” of the brain. But unless you live with it, like Faith does, you have no idea what it’s like. Along with body-shaking seizures, there are the migraines; the dizziness; the chest pains and shortness of breath; the debilitating nausea; the burning electric feelings that run up the back of her neck and head.

The list of physical problems stretches on. And they invade Faith’s life way too often.

And to top it all off, those brain convulsions have even left Faith with something called cortical visual impairment. Her eyes are just fine, but the connections to her brain? Not so hot. If things aren’t printed in big, 48-point print, fuhgeddaboudit.

In spite of those miseries, though, Faith has been able to form some close friendships. She and Grace, for instance, have been BFFs since preschool. And Grace’s cousin, Gabe, is just about the nicest guy you could ever meet.

(In fact, shhh, don’t tell anybody, but Faith kinda has a crush on Gabe. Not that she’d ever admit that. Even to herself!)

If anything, Faith’s epilepsy has brought out the best in her, in a strange way. She has turned to God for daily strength. It’s motivated her to be super sensitive to other people’s handicaps or struggles. And she can’t help but be incredibly grateful to her friends who protect her and care for her when she’s in pain.

All in all, Faith would never complain. But there is one thing that bothers her. A little. As she looks around her, it’s evident that everyone has some special gift. She can see them as plain as day.

Grace is really smart. Gabe is great at music and singing. Her friend Bethany is an incredible dancer, even though she’s deaf. Everybody has something. Except for Faith, that is.

Besides epilepsy—which is no great bonus—Faith isn’t sure she has anything special about her at all. And in some ways, thats even worse than the seizures.

Did the Lord somehow overlook her?

Christian Beliefs

Mountains of Our Own doesn’t shy away from faith, but it isn’t heavy-handed, either.

Most of the friends attend St. Gianna’s Catholic High School, for one thing. So, talking about Bible verses, faith and philosophy comes more naturally than it might to many high schoolers. They address several ideas, verses and faith-focused concepts.

“My personal philosophy?” Faith says during one discussion. “I think that you should love God’s creations and Him.” And she encourages her friends to pray for someone who is generally angry and unhappy.

Faith’s physical malady also opens the door to talking about biblical approaches to disease and discomfort. Faith’s friends, Bethany and Caleb, for example, talk about what the Bible says about Jesus healing a blind man. And they mention their favorite Bible verses. The kids pray about Faith’s condition.

Gabe also declares that he “connects to Jesus” through the Scripture he reads. Gabe also makes an attempt at a “Catholic joke.”

‘“What do you call a priest who becomes a lawyer?” Gabe asked. … “A father-in-law!”’

All that said, not all of Faith’s friends follow Christ. One girl, Tracy, states that “God and I were never close,” when the topic comes up.

There’s also a second story, taking place in 1910, that we read. It’s a story written by one of the young protagonists and features characters who pray for God’s guidance.

Someone talks about God’s gift of children.

Other Belief Systems


Authority Roles

Most of the adult characters here are caring and focused on the well-being of the central teens. Faith’s mom and dad are very loving and concerned. A teacher, Mr. Perry, works with the teens to put on a student play. And despite other people’s doubts, he gives Faith a role in the play. (Her epilepsy makes that process difficult, but the kids and Mr. Perry help Faith through.)

Adults in the 1910 short story aren’t all caring, however. Some espouse looking to God’s strength in difficult times, but some parents force their children to engage in hard labor to support the family. A mill supervisor is foul and physically abusive to his workers.

We also hear that Gabe’s biological father abandoned his family just months after Gabe’s birth. However, his mother remarried a kind man who quickly became the father Gabe needed. And Gabe notes that this man is his true father.

Profanity & Violence

No foul language.

Faith takes some prescription medications to help quell the most extreme of her symptoms. She’s connected to an IV during a hospital visit.

Faith’s ongoing seizures and other symptoms are fully described, and readers get a sense of the physical misery and debilitating lapse of sensory contact she often experiences. We also read of people being beaten, bloodied and abused in the 1910 short story.

Sexual Content

There is an obvious growing attraction between Faith and Gabe. They’re kind, caring and able to talk freely and support one another. Both teens, however, are hesitant to express their growing feelings. Eventually, during an emergency situation, they express how they feel. They kiss.

Discussion Topics

Have you ever struggled with an illness that, in a sense, controlled your life? How did you deal with it? After reading Faith’s story, how do you think you would react in her place? Does this book help you understand other people’s struggles better?

How do you think you can best help someone who’s dealing with physical struggles or illness? What’s the best gift you can give them?

Take a look at Psalm 34:19 and Isaiah 41:10. How do you think those verses apply to Faith’s story.

In this story, Faith and Gabe fall in love. What do you think is different about their relationship when you compare it to a lot of other romantic stories? What do they have that a lot of couples don’t? What do you think romantic love is all about? What makes it work?

Get free discussion questions for books at

Additional Comments

Mountains of Our Own is a simple story of a teen girl learning about friendship, acceptance and love. The tale stays innocent and focused on faith. This book’s biggest strength, however, is the intricate insight it gives young readers into living life with the struggles of epilepsy and CVI (Cortical Visual Impairment).

Author Delaney Kraemer battles epilepsy herself.

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Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not necessarily their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book’s review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

Review by Bob Hoose