Customer Reviews: Dancing in Heaven - a sister's memoir
Automotive Deals HPCC Amazon Fashion Learn more Discover it Jake Owen Fire TV Stick Sun Care Handmade school supplies Shop-by-Room Amazon Cash Back Offer angrybirds angrybirds angrybirds  Amazon Echo  Echo Dot  Amazon Tap  Echo Dot  Amazon Tap  Amazon Echo Starting at $49.99 All-New Kindle Oasis AutoRip in CDs & Vinyl Water Sports

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
Your rating(Clear)Rate this item

There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

on October 12, 2011
In this poignant memoir of her sister, the author tells of the love and devotion of her parents and the blessedness of having Annie in their family for 51 years. The family never regretted the decision to keep Annie at home and take care of her themselves; saying, "God gave her to us and we will do the best we can to care for her, she simply does not belong in an institution."

I could not put the book down and read it in one sitting; from it, I learned what is really important in life. Everyone should read this memoir, the author wrote with love, honor, and care to preserve the precious memories of Annie. She also wrote about some of the mixed emotions she had growing up so that we could see the struggles in her and her famillies lives. A very true-to-live story that you won't be able to put down.
0Comment| 9 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on February 5, 2012
I received a free copy of the Kindle version of this book to review for The Kindle Book Review website, and am in no way affiliated with the author or the publisher. So when I tell you that I loved it completely, through and through, my only wish is that people will make the decision to read this book.

The author is heart-felt in her love for her extremely mentally and physically damaged younger sister, a 51-year-old perpetual infant. Christine Grote beautifully expresses her family's love and life-time devotion to Annie, who eventually died of cancer. Annie, throughout her life, doled out big dollops of love and smiles, delighting those around her. Her care was 24/7, and at the end of her life, her father also began to show the effects of the onset of Alzheimer's. Her mother, in her 70s, tried hard to be the sole caregiver and controller, but was beaten by the hefty circumstances.

Nowhere in this book did I find false affection propped up to look like family loyalty. All the emotions were genuinely loving, expressing true concern and deep loss. Again, I cannot recommend this book highly enough.

-- Java Davis (The Kindle Book Review)
0Comment| 8 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on January 17, 2012
This memoir is a tribute to a young woman who was born with brain injury - diagnosis cerebral palsy - who in her brief but meaningful life could never walk or talk. Having a disabled daughter, I can emotionally relate to this story. My daughter Jen was born seven years after Annie. Unlike Annie, my daughter was "normal" for the first twenty years of her life. I haven't (yet) have the kind of total care for my daughter that Annie's lovely family had, but in author Christine Grote's skilled hands I relate emotionally to the full-time care that's required for such a severely disabled child.

Annie's parents provided total care for Annie for over fifty-one years. They lovingly and willingly provided this care. They loved this daughter unconditionally. They loved her smile. She was always smiling. I wanted to see her smile, and so, because I knew that there were pictures in the book, instead of buying it for my Kindle I bought it for my Nook Color where I can "see" Annie smile not only through words but also through these wonderful photographs.

The writing is also wonderful. The author is skilled with both descriptive passages and dialogue. The book is also brilliantly structured, alternating between the current crises including Annie's final days on earth, and past memories of Annie when the family took her with them on vacations and loved her daily in their home. There are so many great passages that I would love to highlight. I had to struggle to pick just one, as Christine had to struggle to decide what to include and what to leave out of her memoir.

I picked this "flashback" to illustrate Christine's skill with descriptive passages. It's under the heading Dancing to Neil Diamond and takes place on Day 5, Tuesday July 28, of the countdown to Annie's death:

Carol [Annie's other sister] springs into Annie's room, turns on the stereo and says, "We're going to play Neil Diamond. Should it be 'Sweet Caroline' or 'Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show?'" She doesn't wait for a response. "'Brother Love,'" she says. She turns the track on, turns up the volume, and starts to dance around the room.

Annie turns her head to look at Carol from her hospital bed in the corner of the room where she reclines in an elevated position. Her nearly transparent skin provides a thin cover for her bones. Her face is pale and drawn, highlighting her dark, nearly black eyes in contrast. As Carol spins around the room, Mom and I stand beside Annie's bed and search her eyes for, and then recognize, a glimmer of light. Annie's lips twitch and Mom says, "She's trying to smile."

Carol starts singing along with Neil Diamond as she dances. "What is your silly sister doing, Annie?" I ask. Mom and I laugh, and Annie's mouth opens slightly and turns up at the corners. It is not the vibrant, radiant smile that we are accustomed to and that she wears in the photograph on her dresser, but it is a smile nevertheless. We all feel rewarded.

There are the smiles, the wonderful smiles. There's sadness. That is the way it is here on earth - opposition in all things. Without sorrow, how can we know joy? How can we really know anything?

In the memoir Christine says that she once asked her parents, "How do you think our lives would have been different as a family if Annie would not have been disabled?" Her dad said, "Well, I'd have had one more bright daughter." Her mom never said anything, but later she said, "Look how happy she is. This is the only life she's ever known." And on another occasion Mom said, "In some ways, she's the lucky one. She's never known rejection, or failure, or reprimand. All she's ever known is love."

Dad said, "She's the way God gave her to us." When I read this, I agreed. She was the way God gave her to this family whom I'm certain He knew would love her the way He wanted her to be loved. I believe this was Annie's mission here on fallen earth - to give her earthly family the opportunity to learn some important things about themselves as they unconditionally loved and served this beautiful young woman whom I know is now joyfully and literally dancing in heaven, released from her physical infirmities. One day my wheelchair bound daughter might find Annie. I hope she will. Then I can watch the two of them Dancing in Heaven together .

This memoir is beautifully conceived and beautifully written. I can't praise it enough!
0Comment| 7 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on October 20, 2011
"In some ways, she's the lucky one. She's never known rejection or failure or reprimand. All she's ever known is Love"

Just one of the many quotes that sticks with me after reading this loving tribute to Annie. Annie was surrounded by Love her entire 51 years of life, blessed with a remarkable family. This is a sister's story about strength, compassion, determination and unconditional Love. Annie's sweet smile speaks volumes for the love and care she received from her amazing family.
0Comment| 8 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on February 21, 2012
Unconditional love of a loved one?? This memoir is the perfect example of that. Christine Smith Grote has written a moving and emotional memoir of living with her disabled sister, Annie. The reader is taken along the journey as Annie grows and experiences life in her own way. The book allows each reader to feel a part of the family as they struggle to make the best life possible for their beloved Annie.

This memoir was a moving and revealing look at life with someone who has limitations and how it affects those around them. It is not always easy and while those struggles are detailed--it is also a journey of total and complete love where sacrifice and adaptation to circumstances is the norm. Many times I felt myself getting pulled into the struggles and frustrations of the family as they tried to make the best possible life for their sweet Annie. By the end of the book I felt that I knew Annie. She was a real person to me . This book was a tribute to her from her loving sister who shared deep and personal moments with her readers in order to allow us to be a part of Annie's life and world.

What a wonderful book to share with anyone who has struggled with the same situation and for anyone who wants to educate themselves on what life with a disabled person may be like. Christine Smith Grote writes beautifully and her love and devotion to her sweet sister, Annie, shines through on every page. Definitely a book to pass along to others so that they can share in the life of a wonderful woman .
0Comment| 4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on June 22, 2015
I believe that people with disabilities can bring out the best in us. I was uplifted by the happiness Annie brought and I have no doubt that she is indeed dancing in heaven. Highly recommend this book!!!
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on June 15, 2012
This is a particularly well-written and absorbing account of the life and death of Annie and her loving and devoted family, as told by her sister Christine. In the book, Christine shares how everyone who crossed Annie's path was touched and I was no exception. Annie crept into my heart and I felt myself going through many emotions as her life on this earth slowly ebbed away. The author crosses between past and present flawlessly. I have the greatest respect and admiration for the entire family and I'm quite sure that Annie is now, dancing in heaven. And through this book, Annie will continue to touch hearts just as she always did. Christine, you have done a wonderful thing in sharing this story, for Annie, for your family, for all of us. A true example of unconditional love all round.
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on May 11, 2016
This is an excellent book! I read it in one sitting (because I couldn't put it down) and then reread it, because there were parts I really wanted to completely take in. I highly recommend this to anyone who has suffered loss in their family. The dedication to one another is very apparent in the telling of this story of a family and the special child that they all devoted themselves to.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
TOP 500 REVIEWERon October 6, 2015
This is the story of a family facing a special dilemma. How do you care for a beloved family member who's non-verbal? An infant can't communicate effectively, but that soon changes. The author's sister Annie never developed the power of speech. Others (like my mother) lose the ability to speak through stroke or illness or injury. So important to us is our ability to speak that care-givers of the non-verbal face a constant struggle to convince others that those without speech are still fully human.

Annie never spoke a word, but she observed and she was a great listener. Who knows how many people poured their hearts out to her during her 51 years on earth? Who knows how many secrets she took to the grave with her? Even cynical, slow-to-trust people connected with the tiny child-like woman with big brown eyes and an infectious smile.

Annie was born at a time when society was still largely ignoring disabilities and hiding them when possible. She was able to lead a happy life and to contribute to the happiness of others because her parents never backed away from their responsibility to care for her as much as for her "normal" sisters. Thanks to her mother's optimistic personality and her father's determined dedication to his family, her sisters came to see their very needy sister as a blessing, not a burden.

I think the thing that I love best about this book is that it shows the joy of care-giving. In a society which values personal freedom and selfish pleasure above all else, care-givers are seen as "saints'" or emotionally stunted martyrs. These two busy people ran a successful business, raised their other daughters, and were active as community and church leaders. And Annie was there every step of the way - always treated as a full family member and a complete human being. This was "inclusiveness" at its best and most effective. Caring for Annie wasn't drudgery, but a joyous family commitment.

If you have ever been a care-giver, you'll smile (or shrug or cry) at the story of a family who slowly put together a "treatment plan" for their child. Sometimes it was with the help of medical and educational professionals, but mostly they forged their own way as families must. The most brilliant doctor or the most dedicated therapist doesn't know your loved one as intimately as you do. Sometimes care-giving means spitting in experts' eyes and doing what you know is best. Annie's parents had the guts to do just that. She was one lucky woman.

**** The author very kindly gave me a copy of this book. Had I known of its existence before she contacted me, I would have happily purchased it.****
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on August 31, 2013
I loved this book and had a hard time putting it down. The story of Annie brought tears to my eyes not only because annie was born with this horrible disability But because the author made us realize that Annie was a pure gift to all those around her.
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

Send us feedback

How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you?
Let us know here.