The Orphan Carpenter
Kenneth Ian McQuarrie
Carpenter’s Son Publishing (2022)
Reviewed by Rachel Dehning for Reader Views (01/2023)
“The Orphan Carpenter,” while at first glance might be difficult to understand the meaning, is a story of one man’s life with the phrase “Faith, Hope, and Love” being the main tagline. Author Kenneth Ian McQuarrie records his life as one might do for a baby book or journal, but unlike the factual format of baby books and journals, McQuarrie includes details and doesn’t shy away from the intimate and vulnerable moments in his life that he deems important for readers to understand his purpose. McQuarrie was born with a major physical abnormality and was an orphan, not an ideal circumstance for the beginning of anyone’s life. What happened after the first three months of his life impacted and shaped him into the man he is today – a God-fearing husband, son, uncle, friend, etc. Beginning his life with no family, by the grace of God, he can now claim many people as his family or at least very good friends.
As mentioned above, McQuarrie began life on rocky terrain; despite his status as an orphan and having a major physical abnormality, it wouldn’t seem likely, but there was a perfect family out there willing to take him in and raise him through the foster system, where he gained the love, nurturing, and caring for that all babies need in their younger years. Praise be to God that McQuarrie was eventually allowed to be adopted by this family, undergoing many physical changes such as surgeries and emotional changes as he learns who he is as an adopted individual, son, grandson, and child of God.
Each chapter throughout the book details a moment in his life that was meaningful or had an impact on him in some way, with each one ending with a moral for the reader to choose to take or not, usually being religious in nature. With McQuarrie being a God-fearing man, it is no surprise that God is mentioned in nearly every chapter at some point, because that was what is important to him; some chapters get more in-depth with religion and the Methodist denomination (what he grew up with) – in this reader’s opinion, all very good stuff that hits the nail on the head of the key takeaways. McQuarrie speaks much about God and how He helped him to be the man he is today, but he doesn’t speak in an “uppity” way as he knows more than the reader, but instead, he writes quite the opposite, his writing in general is done in a faith-filled way but the way he reminisces on past events throughout his childhood and life is done so in a positive manner, regardless if he got into trouble during them or not – he writes humbly, showing that he is a sinner and “normal” person as every reader is, making mistakes and learning from them.
As a parent, and likely because I’m also a female, I appreciated the memories and the family pictures, as well as journal entries from his mother in the beginning chapters when he was an infant and toddler, and scripture verses in the beginning and throughout each chapter. The length of the book had me weary to begin with, but the first several pages got me hooked, especially how he decided to begin the first chapter.
McQuarrie recounts many reasons he could have used to dismiss God and have pity on himself, but he showed his character by looking past those negative happenings and both taking matters into his own hands and allowing them to be shaped by God so that he learned to be a man in the world but also allowed his humility and ignorance to show and allowed the help from God and others to aid in relationships and strengthen them. If the reader is religious, they shouldn’t have an issue with what is discussed, but even if they aren’t, looking at the positive man he is, is possible as well.