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A Slant of Sun: One Child's Courage Paperback – September 22, 1999


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; 1st ed edition (September 22, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0688172288
  • ISBN-13: 978-0688172282
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,385,080 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The hardest part of being a parent is the certain knowledge that there are some things you can't control. When Beth Kephart's son Jeremy was labeled with the unsettlingly vague diagnosis of pervasive developmental disorder (a behavioral disorder related to autism) in the fall of 1991, there were no definitive medical answers, no guidebooks to Jeremy's inner world, no maps to help Jeremy's mom and dad lead their boy back into the land of relatively uncomplicated childhood. Jeremy was a beautiful child who screamed whenever strangers came near him and spent long hours every day obsessively rearranging his toy cars into indecipherable patterns. He was an early talker, but by the time of his diagnosis Jeremy's speech had degenerated into mindless parroting--a condition known as echolalia. Jeremy's triumph over his disability and his journey to reintegration is the primary story of this beautifully written book, Kephart's first.

The other story, the more universal story, is the haunting account of the symbiosis between mother and child, which grows particularly intense when a child feels pain from which his mother cannot shield him. Kephart's fears that her own maternal failings are somehow implicated in Jeremy's problem stand out as the emotional core of this memoir. Her faith in her son, perseverance, and eventual acceptance of herself play as important a role in his healing process as any course of therapy--and her unflinching descriptions of her own healing are what make A Slant of Sun such a stunning debut. --Patrizia DiLucchio --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

At two and a half years old, Kephart's son, Jeremy, was diagnosed as suffering from pervasive developmental disorder, a condition that has some of the elements of autism. The child's speech was "atypical," he was terrified of contact with everyone but his parents and grandparents, and his life became characterized by certain behaviors that became obsessions. Because his situation was so anomalous, even professionals used to dealing with so-called exceptional children were at a loss as to how to cope with Jeremy at times. But the Pennsylvania-based author and her husband, Bill, after blaming themselves for the child's difficulties and encountering problems with experts, determined to deal with their son on his own terms and to modify his behavior without wrenching him away from his few interests, ranging from trains and cars to planes and trucks, and by letting him set his own pace when encountering other children and adults. They also chose his schools wisely, with the result that Jeremy now functions well in society at age nine. Freelancer Kephart conveys her frantic reaction to the original diagnosis, her furious desire to change conditions for Jeremy at once and her ultimate realization that a tangible, positive outcome was possible, given great patience. Kephart tells an affecting story of parental dedication.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Following the publication of five memoirs and FLOW, the autobiography of Philadelphia's Schuylkill River, I've had the great pleasure of turning my attention to young adult fiction. UNDERCOVER and HOUSE OF DANCE were both named a best of the year by Kirkus and Bank Street. NOTHING BUT GHOSTS, A HEART IS NOT A SIZE, and DANGEROUS NEIGHBORS were critically acclaimed. In October YOU ARE MY ONLY will be released by Egmont USA. Next summer, Philomel will release SMALL DAMAGES. I am at work on a prequel to DANGEROUS NEIGHBORS, a novel for adults, and a memoir about teaching. Please visit my blog: http://beth-kephart.blogspot.com/

Customer Reviews

Parents need to trust their instincts and follow what makes sense to them.
yinbar@aol.com
Aside from the story itself Beth Kephart's use of words and language make the book worth reading, she writes beautifully.
Rebecca
I love "A Slant of Sun," a first book by Beth Kephart, a memoir for her nine-year-old son Jeremy.
Jean Ashburn

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Jean Ashburn on January 6, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I love "A Slant of Sun," a first book by Beth Kephart, a memoir for her nine-year-old son Jeremy. This book is about everything that matters in relationships, whether son and mother, husband and wife, friends. It's about acceptance and compassion and anger and courage. It's about stripping life down to its essentials to find out what the essentials are. What does it matter if your son has good manners or a sensible bedtime if he has not, in the course of his young life, found the words, any words, that will order the rest of his life? I love you, Mommy. I want cereal. I want to play.
Diagnosed at age two with pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified, Jeremy had obsessions and rituals and fears and no language to express his need for them. He loved cars and arranging them in precise, unvarying patterns. He was terrified of strangers, of any disruption in his day. The picture on the cover of the book is of Jeremy, alone and facing the world from his front porch, wearing the too-big green hat that for a time was his equivalent of Dorothy's ruby slippers, a bit of protection, a hedged bet against a world that wanted him to be like other kids. And a badge, too, that said, "I'm not like other kids. I hope I find my way, but it will be my way."
In fact, that's how it was. Today, he is on the verge of third grade, a move forward that, like all new things, has him a little nervous. "I know," he confides to his mother, "that I'm not good at transitions." He agreed to having a bunch of strangers in his house for a party in honor of the publication of the book for which he was the inspiration and the hero as long as he could leave and play soccer in the backyard when he felt like it. He not only held his own, he held forth.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Joanne Lang on January 28, 2000
Format: Hardcover
A Slant of Sun, is the beautifully written story of one boy's triumph over a diagnosis of "pervasive developmental disorder, not otherwise specified". Authored by his mother, Beth Kephart, we are taken on a journey through the heartaches, frustrations and joys of their relationship to each other and to the world. Ms. Kephart eloquently brings to our awareness the fact that each child is unique and that each parent has the opportunity to alter the course of a life by his or her willingness to challenge conventional thinking. Through the author's determination and love for her son and by Jeremy's strength, she guides and supports him in his courageous struggle. Ms. Kephart has the unique ability to bare her soul while maintaining the book's focus on her son and his day-by-day victories. For any one who has ever loved a child, A Slant of Sun promises to engross you with its depth, honesty and bravery.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Shannon Smithey on August 9, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Beth Kephart writes very well. I was totally hooked on this book after reading only a few pages. She is both a fierce advocate for her son and an interesting analyst of his difficulties. She takes us through her own journey and that of her son, from the first suspicions that something is wrong, through the struggle for a diagnosis, through the therapy and her realization that sometimes she ought to trust her instincts about her son more than the opinions of the experts. Though my own child does not suffer from any of Jeremy's problems, I gained considerable insight about parenting from this book.
You are likely to find this story fascinating whether you have any children or not.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 21, 1999
Format: Paperback
As one who appreciates beautiful writing and as the mother of a son with PDD, I absolutely loved this book. There were many moments I recognized from my own experience in the roller coaster-like highs and lows Ms. Kephart experienced, the sterile and absolute reports from the medical community, and, worst of all, the rejection of her child. The only additional experience I've had that she didn't report is the blame that others would like to lay at the feet of the parents of such a child. Like Jeremy, my son has made great progress and is a high school honor student at our local public high school. While he doesn't spend time with friends, he's gained enough social confidence to enjoy social functions.
I'm glad that this book is drawing an audience beyond those with an interest in autism-like disorders, however, if you finish the book and don't question the way we as a society define "normal," then you've missed the point of the book.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Maureen Barr on October 10, 1999
Format: Hardcover
A Slant of Sun: One Child's Courage By Beth Kephart, May 1998, W.W. Norton & Company; 249pp
As each of us have become parents, we have watched in awe the transformation of a swollen embodiment of hope into a human being who personifies our genetic material. Eternally compelling, we behold, we examine, we are astonished. For most parents, the gift of watching a child grow is truly a profound experience; but nothing is more heart wrenching than to watch a child grow with difficulty. Beth Kephart takes us into that vigilant world of a parent with a child who diverges from the path of normal development in her outstanding book, A Slant of Sun: One Child's Courage. Yet, this particular book is so much more than a story about loving parents who diligently and successfully maneuver their gifted, mildly autistic child through the maze of denial, disillusionment, doctors and diagnoses. The fact is, this book is a must read because of Kephart's incredible style of writing words that fit together like a correctly completed rubric's cube. Kephart's ability to detail the ordinary moments of life transform them into the extraordinary. Her lyrical prose is sumptuous. Her vivid word combinations always satisfy. I recommend that you pick up a copy of Beth Kephart's book, find a warm slant of sun to read by, and enjoy!
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