Kristin Stiles’ Review of JULIA GONZAGA, by Simonetta Carr

Published on November 19, 2019 by Benjamin J. Montoya

Reformation Heritage Books, 2018 | 64 pages

A Book Review from Books At a Glance

By Kristin Stiles


At age 15, this young woman found herself widowed and wealthy. She was called the most beautiful woman in Italy. Her life could have been one of luxury and ease, but God awakened in her unsettled feelings about her soul and her inability to live up to the demands of the law. Set in the time period when the Reformation faced off against the Inquisition and in the very heart of Roman Catholicism, the story of Julia Gonzaga inspires the reader to repeat the words of our Lord, “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:36 ESV)

Simonetta Carr is a virtuosa when it comes to writing biographies of men and women of faith. She presents a compelling story full of rich details at a level that is very accessible to pre-adolescent children. She not only weaves in historical aspects, but she does a masterful job of presenting the gospel within her storyline. Her handling of the difference between the works righteous teachings of the Catholic Church and the doctrines of grace proclaimed in the Reformation is excellent. I appreciate the “Did You Know?” section that follows the biography which gives added depth to the time period and the characters and also the section titled “Julia’s Voice” which includes excerpts from Julia’s correspondence with one of her spiritual mentors. Illustrator, Max Abraxas, must also be applauded for the stunning depictions of the story that he has painted. They are a beautiful addition to the story. Also added are many maps, photographs, and historical paintings. These add a real sense that Julia Gonzaga was an actual person who lived in and affected history as much as anyone a student would read about in a textbook.

This biography is an important addition to the Christian Biographies for Young Readers series. Young girls benefit from seeing how God has used other young girls and women to build His kingdom. All children benefit from seeing that pursuing worldly goods and pleasures is an empty and futile activity, but pursuing God, despite the temporal consequences, is a full and eternally worthwhile endeavor. Also, there are a lot of children’s books about the effects of the Reformation in England, Germany, and France but not so many on the Catholic stronghold of Italy. It is interesting to see what God was doing in and through His people there. I hope you will add this wonderful biography to your own library.


Kristin Stiles is a home-school mom, a Sunday School teacher, and helps lead the “Young, Reading, & Reformed” children’s ministry at Reformed Baptist Church of Franconia, PA.

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JULIA GONZAGA, by Simonetta Carr

Reformation Heritage Books, 2018 | 64 pages

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