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Before and After Zachariah Paperback – September, 1998

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Editorial Reviews


"The author's defense of institutional care as a positive alternative, and, in her case, a necessity for self-survival, is a heartrending account of courage and love." — Publishers Weekly

Product Details

  • Paperback: 247 pages
  • Publisher: Chicago Review Press (September 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0897333039
  • ISBN-13: 978-0897333030
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,213,655 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Fern Kupfer is a memoirist, columnist, novelist and popular speaker. Her new book, Leaving Long Island (Culicidae Press, 2012) is a memoir about being a woman of a certain age and surviving the loss of a child, the explosive end of a long marriage, and the discovery of a genetic inheritance (the BRCA 1 gene) endemic to the Ashkenazi Jewish population. It is a second half of life story, depicting an ordinary life of pain and happy second chances. A great women's book club selection!

Fern Kupfer's work has appeared in Newsweek, Newsday, Redbook, Family Circle, American Way, Woman's Day, The Women's Review of Books, Writer's Digest, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Parents magazine, Moment, The Washington Post, Cosmopolitan and The Des Moines Register; her essays have been widely anthologized in college texts and popular collections including Nice Jewish Girls (Plume/Penguin), The Secret Lives of Lawfully Wedded Wives and Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: Women Writers on Fairytales(Anchor/Doubleday)

Her columns "Mothering " and "A Certain Age" appeared every three weeks in Newsday, Long Island's newspaper, from 1993 - 2005.

Her novels' include
Surviving the Seasons (Delacorte)
No Regrets (Viking)
Love Lies (Simon and Schuster).

A memoir, the best selling Before and After Zachariah, a story about family life with a severely disabled child is in its third edition (Academy Chicago). All of her books have been published internationally. Surviving the Seasons was nominated for the Jewish Book Award.

Fern Kupfer has been a public speaker for family advocacy and special needs children, lecturing all over the United States at conferences, hospitals and schools. She has appeared on Good Morning America and has been interviewed by Oprah Winfry.

Until her retirement from the creative writing program at Iowa State in 2011, she was a tenured professor, teaching creative writing and magazine writing at Iowa State University.

She is married to the Lebanese-American writer Joseph Geha. Their family combines step-children and grandchildren, middle-easterners, mid-westerners, gentiles and Jews. They live in the middle of the country - Iowa - where the corn is high, the political caucus begins, families grow hearty and the people are almost always nice.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Eva Reynolds on July 22, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book is especially helpful and insightful for those of us who have handicapped children, but I really believe every mom or dad could learn from it. Although the "I'm so glad it's you and not me" phrase is thrown at us "special" parents way too often, there's some truth to the fact that most parents never have to deal with anything that remotely comes close to the things that happen daily when a family includes a disabled child. I especially appreciated the stories in the book from other parents of disabled children. Ms. Kupfer hit it right on the mark when she brought up the issue about "accepting" her child's disability. I wish the therapists and care providers and docs could get hold of that concept and really understand it. Awesome, wonderful book. It's old, but still good -- and very applicable in our society today that is pushing to do away with institutions for the disabled. What has always made our country great is our freedoms and our wonderful ability to choose out of all the opportunities available to us. Some would take this choice (to make use of institutions) away and call it a step in the right direction. They are sadly mistaken. Read this book and you will not be disappointed.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 22, 2000
Format: Paperback
As the sister of a profoundly retarded young man, I recommend this book to anyone related to or otherwise close to a person whose mental functioning is severely impaired. While there is much material available on the mildly and moderately retarded, few books are written about the lives of the severely and profoundly retarded and their families. Fern Kupfer tells her family's story well, and by including quotations from many other parents of severely retarded children, she also puts that story into perspective. Her family's decision to place Zachariah in residential care was not made lightly or easily, and those who are struggling with their choices in caring for their relatives will find this book compassionate and helpful, as well as refreshingly honest. This book is also an important reminder to all that while the vast majority of retarded people can be "mainstreamed" with success, a significant minority do need a level of lifetime care that is extraordinarily difficult for a family to provide.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By BeatleBangs1964 VINE VOICE on August 31, 2000
Format: Paperback
The world was first introduced to Zachariah in a 1980 article of "Redbook" magazine. Fern Kupfer writes with a clear, clean, crisp and very direct style that is sure to reach all readers.
In more recent years, her severely developmentally delayed son's progress has been updated in this book. It made the reader feel somewhat bonded to the Kupfers (Fern Kupfer has written some delightful fictional stories that have appeared in "Redbook" and other magazines) and all the more interested in the approaches used to teach and raise this perpetual infant.
Zachariah's older sister, Gabi, provides comic relief. Bright and verbal, Gabi possesses a savvy that shows up at a very early age. Wonderfully original, Gabi is never at a loss to express herself and her mixed feelings about her brother. One does sense that Gabi feels a real loss. Her brother is on the developmental plane of an infant and most likely will remain an infant for the rest of his life. She is funny, lovable and unflinchingly honest in her assessments. It is through Gabi that one gets an even clearer picture of life with a loved one who is severely developmentally delayed.
Some years have passed since the latest update on Zachariah's progress. The residential program in Iowa where we last checked in with Zachariah sounded like a wonderfully humane place and one where persons living as perpetual infants got good, loving care and full protection.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mary E. Flood on July 9, 2005
Format: Paperback
Fern Kupfer captures the essence of raising a child with special needs. She expresses all the mixed emotions, including anger and rage, that most families in this situation wish to express, but fear what others will think of them, if they do. Our society has told parents that raising a child with special needs can be done, and done well. Parents are often told that they have been specially chosen by a higher power to carry out this noble task. Fern Kupfer questions all those platitudes. She and her husband are doggedly committed to doing all they can for their child, and she realistically examines the effects this has on them as a couple, and a family as a whole.

This book should be required reading for all individuals working with children and families with special needs. This book would help many families in this situation understand that ALL of their feelings are normal,and that only they can make the best decision for their child and family, and not a society that shows little regard for individuals in this situation.

I applaud Fern and her husband for their courage to do what they believe is best for Zachy and the family.
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