Juli Boit is an author, community builder and non-profit leader working at the intersection of faith, global health, and human dignity. For 17 years Juli has lived and worked in Africa, founding and serving as International Director of Living Room International, a community-led nonprofit providing hospice and palliative care services to adults and children in Western Kenya.
Through her training as a Family Nurse Practitioner, Juli has combined her dual passions of healthcare and social justice into a unique expression of love that is providing desperately needed services in an underserved community. That said, Juli would be the first to add she’s the one who has been loved the most by her patients and neighbors in her home village of Kipkaren — most notably by Titus, her Kenyan husband and their children Sharon, Alice, Ella, Geoffrey, and Ryan.
Juli’s book, From Beyond the Skies, chronicles her journey of moving to Kenya, founding LRI and becoming the adoptive parent of three children with Sickle Cell Disease.
“A heroic, uplifting account of easing others’ suffering and building a family.”
– Kirkus Reviews
Boit blends memoir with stories from a Kenyan hospice in this nonfiction work.
In 2003, with just three years of experience as a nurse practitioner, the author moved from Los Angeles to Kipkaren River, a small village in western Kenya, for what was supposed to be a one-year assignment. Almost two decades later, Boit still calls Kipkaren home, having founded the nonprofit Living Room International in 2009, whose activities include building a hospice (called Kimbilio, meaning “a place to run to; a refuge” in Swahili) for seriously ill children and adults. Informed by the belief that “a person becomes a person through other people,” this book shares the stories of those whom the author cared for, shared plates of vegetables and ugali(cornmeal cake, a staple of the region) with, and mourned in silence alongside. A collection of stories that changes the names of some individuals to protect their privacy, the text eschews a chronological narrative in favor of anecdotal vignettes; among the book’s multitude of poignant moments is the story of “Betty,” an HIV-positive woman who devoted her life to destigmatizing the disease. These stories are blended with the author’s memoir detailing her experiences as a nonprofit leader who juggles her professional responsibilities with her identity as a mother of chronically ill children. The combination of poetry, memoir, and stories from inside a hospice effectively highlights Boit’s belief in the power of “brave love.” Interspersed throughout the chapters are selections of Boit’s original poetry, much of which is centered on the book’s underlying themes of family, community, and love. One poem emphasizes the importance of “Making room…For healing and wholeness” and creating “Space for love and possibility.” Christianity also plays a major role in the book, both in the author’s personal faith in God and in her Kenyan community. The book is never preachy, however, as Boit sincerely grapples with faith’s role in “wrestling with issues of justice and poverty.”
A poignant case study of the power of faith, community, and love.
Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2023
Page count: 260pp
Review Posted Online: Nov. 21, 2023
A memoir about fighting AIDS and finding love in Kenya.
In her nonfiction debut, Boit recounts her experiences working at a care center in western Kenya. The shift—she’d gone there after working as a nurse on an HIV unit in Los Angeles—is more than just moving from a developed to a developing country. It also involves a drastic shift in cultural attitudes. As Boit mentions, in the U.S. in 2004, HIV was mostly treated as a chronic disease rather than a death sentence. In Kipkaren River Village where she takes up residence, however, not only are the circumstances very different (no electricity, no running water, no indoor plumbing, and so on), but so were the attitudes toward the disease itself. She met dedicated doctors who very much wanted to change that, and she also met a man named Titus, whom she married. They had a child, Ella, but the real focus of the narrative is on a premature baby named Ryan, whom Boit took into her home. Soon after, she and Titus agreed to adopt Ryan. The story expands to include their adoption of two more children. Throughout the tale, Boit maintains a glowingly optimistic, companionable tone. She never makes the foremost mistake of so many memoirists—thinking the mere details of her story will in and of themselves interest readers. Instead, she consistently ties her memories to broader insights about love and about her own personal Christian faith. “Over the years,” she writes, “as I stepped closer to those in their suffering, I came to recognize the nearness of God—present in the hard places and the pain, in the spaces where death and destruction always wanted to win.” Boit has worked in those hard places, and her memoir illuminates them.
A heroic, uplifting account of easing others’ suffering and building a family.
Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021
Page count: 260pp
Publisher: Morgan James Publishing
Review Posted Online: July 28, 2021
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2021
From Beyond the Skies
FROM BEYOND THE SKIES: AN INVITATION INTO THE WONDER OF LOVE: Named to Kirkus Reviews' Best Books, 2021
FROM BEYOND THE SKIES: AN INVITATION INTO THE WONDER OF LOVE: Kirkus Star
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