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Book Review: Angels of a Lower Flight: One Woman’s Mission to Save a Country . . . One Child at a Time by Susie Scott Krabacher

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“Former Playboy Playmate Does Good”: a subtitle that would accurately encapsulate the thrust of Susie Scott Krabacher’s autobiography Angels of a Lower Flight. What this subtitle wouldn’t capture are the nuances of pain – that of Krabacher’s abusive childhood and perhaps more importantly, that of the thousands of Haitian children that she now feeds and cares for through her charitable foundation Mercy and Sharing.

Angels of a Lower Flight chronicles Krabacher’s first-person recollections of the abuse and strictly religious home she grew up in. Not a happy, feel-good read by any stretch of the imagination, she doesn’t skirt away from her grandfather’s predatory sexual abuse nor her mother’s mental disorders and violent tendencies. Seeking to escape her childhood home, she dropped out of grade ten, took an office job, and before long found herself sinking into the moral depravity and boundary-free world of a Playboy playmate. Sinking into drug addiction and a doomed marriage to a criminal, she eventually finds herself homeless and working as an unskilled domestic.

After her remarriage to a successful attorney, Krabacher eventually feels led to aid children in poverty-stricken countries. Without training or the support of any official organization, she strikes out to see what can be done for the children of Haiti. Krabacher’s fortitude and persistence in setting up orphanages, feeding programs, and schools in this spiritually dark country are amazing to read, considering her complete lack of what many would consider to be the requisite formal qualifications.

Her descriptions of the pain, fear, hunger, and death that she encounters in her journey are heartbreaking. Reading her memoirs, one can’t help but be captured by the pleas of these Haitian little ones as they are cast away, mistreated, and purposefully disposed of. Haiti is now indelibly imprinted on the hearts of my family, and our home has been filled with prayers, conversation, further research and much heart-searching.

Not a read for the timid, Krabacher doesn’t shy away from describing her drug binges, recollections of sexual abuse, tales of wild parties, and life in the Playboy mansion. Neither does she gloss over the realities of life in Haiti for abandoned children: little ones with heads grown into crib bars, extraordinary degrees of starvation and malnutrition, children abandoned on the streets with broken bones, and the list goes on.

Turning to God as her support through the many trials and difficulties that she encounters in her work, the pages of her work are scattered with meaningful scripture passages – particularly the psalms, and occasionally references to her faith. She also clearly draws into view the spiritual roots of the darkness, poverty, crime, and so on that are rife in Haitian society. However, this is not primarily a spiritually focused title; rather, the thrust of her work is humanitarian in nature. No clear-cut conversion experience is shared, and readers may be left uncertain in regards to Krabacher’s spiritual standing, as she continues to model nude sometime after returning to church. There’s no clear delineation line where she passes from darkness to light. I can only hope that certain portions of her spiritual journey remain untold here.

While sharing the many challenges faced during the establishment and growth of Mercy and Sharing, Krabacher continually amazed me with her seemingly contradictory traits of tender mercy and iron-will. With such a heart for children, she continues to soldier on, though her heart’s been broken countless times. She presses on through each struggle, refusing to surrender. Amazingly devoted to the cause, she’s worked since 1995 without drawing any wages, and all the profits from her book are going directly back into her ongoing work in Haiti.

Learn more about the work Mercy and Sharing is undertaking in Haiti at their website.

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