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The Water Giver: The Story of a Mother, a Son, and Their Second Chance Paperback – Bargain Price, September 14, 2010

19 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

How does one raise children to be the best they can be, instead of the best of who you want them to be? Former San Francisco Chronicle sports columnist Ryan (Little Girls in Pretty Boxes) wrestled with this question for most of her adopted son Ryan's life, never quite feeling as if her mothering instincts fit the boy she loved. His early childhood diagnosis with sensory integration dysfunction gave her analytical side a roadmap of therapies and teaching tools, but the heartbreak of watching him struggle endlessly in school and at home left her emotionally exhausted and unsure of herself. Then their lives changed: after falling from his skateboard just blocks from their home at age TK, her son suffered a traumatic brain injury that left him unable to walk or talk, requiring multiple complex surgeries and months of rehabilitation. Her story of supporting him through this experience, with expert medical teams and tremendous aid from family and friends, is a testament both to her stamina and to his strength. Given the perspective that sometimes only a crisis can bring, Ryan learns to forgive herself for the smaller struggles of her son's earlier years, to take each day's challenges as they come and to trust herself to be the only mother that he needs. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

"We have to admire Ryan for tackling these topics. It is one thing to

live through the experiences as they occur; it is quite another to

re-create them honestly and effectively. And though the story Ryan

tells is unique...the themes of love, grace and redemption that run

through her discussion are ideas with which we can all relate."

--Christina Eng, The San Francisco Chronicle

 

"Given the perspective that sometimes only a crisis can bring, Ryan learns to forgive herself for the smaller struggles of her son's earlier years, to take each day's challenges as they come and to trust herself to be the only mother that he needs."

--Publishers Weekly

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Reprint edition (September 14, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416576533
  • ASIN: B005CDUKF0
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,910,683 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

JOAN RYAN is an award-winning journalist and author. She was a pioneer in sports journalism, becoming one of the first female sports columnists in the country. Her first book, Little Girls in Pretty Boxes: The Making and Breaking of Elite Gymnasts and Figure Skaters was named one of the Top 100 Sports Books of All Time by Sports Illustrated. She is a media consultant for the San Francisco Giants. Joan lives in Marin County, north of San Francisco, with her husband, Fox sportscaster Barry Tompkins, their 19-year-old son, Ryan, and their dog, Bill.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Jeannine Yeomans on September 17, 2009
Format: Hardcover
As a parent who lost a child when he was 14, and now with my two daughters grown up and healthy, I highly recommend The Water Giver to any parent who needs reassurance that we may not all have been perfect, but we did the best we can. Joan Ryan shares how she felt like her son's "manager" (I was guilty of that with all my kids too)and how her son taught her to just be his mother. The book choked me up at times but also inspired me and made me laugh. I loved it and have bought seven copies for friends.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By L. Lee on October 9, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Through her son's near death accident and the journey her family takes towards recovery, Joan Ryan takes the reader through a roller coaster of emotions. You might think you would be crying from cover to cover, but that's not the case. There are humorous and wonderful moments that will have you laughing out loud. There are also frightening moments that will keep you turning page after page. And, yes, there are moments you might shed some tears. But throughout it all, every moment is REAL. Ms. Ryan's courage to share her experiences so honestly is what makes you root for this family and is why you should read this book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By JBarr on September 18, 2009
Format: Hardcover
The Water Giver is beautifully written and interesting, beginning to end. The horrible accident and medical journey are balanced with tales of family and friends, work and delightful anecdotes. One can laugh, cry, feel empathy, and relate. As soon as I finished, I wanted to read it again.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Carla Ford VINE VOICE on September 26, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I thought I might have a hard time reading this, because I have a son, also an only child. I started reading and literally couldn't stop. Ms. Ryan recounted the story of her son's accident and recovery in such a concise and "lack of drama" manner that it really was easy to read. Perhaps because she is a reporter, and knows how to write about very emotional subjects, or perhaps because I knew from the book jacket that Ryan did recover from his accident, the book just roped me in without wringing me out. The story of Ryan's accident and journey to recovery is a great story in itself. Ms. Ryan's own journey as a mother is equally inspirational. I think any mother who reads this book will be able to identify with Ms. Ryan, and even feel relief to find their own feelings about their children so eloquently expressed. We all have such doubts about our ability to parent well, and our children's ability to fit in and be happy. Ms. Ryan's attitude really makes this a wonderful book - her belief that Ryan's accident "reset" her relationship with her son shines. Read this book - you will be glad you did!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Devyani P. Kamdar on September 17, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Every parent doubts their parenting style and every child presents unique challenges. By writing her story with brutal honesty regarding her own mistakes, doubts and fears we are all able to feel a bit more human and accepting of our own failures. We can better accept and love our own children whoever they are. And that is priceless. Thank you, Joan.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Tim Truett on January 16, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a brilliantly written memoir by an experienced newspaper writer of the pain, patience and hard love required to navigate life as the parent of a learning disabled child. Ms. Ryan is a former sports writer quite familiar with the emotional and physical demands of professional athletics. And she knows how to communicate with average and sophisticated readers. She uses her skills to describe her life as the mother of a boy born with significant, neurologically based learning differences who, as an adolescent, suffers a further traumatic head injury.
The book is moving, mature and insightful. Ms. Ryan can be read as a worried mother, as a clinician, an excellent journalist, but perhaps most importantly as a burdened game planner - the one responsible to scout the strengths & weaknesses, opportunities, methods, therapies and courses available to her child. She must analyze each, try many, suffer several apparent failures, and then adjust to or cope with the overcome of each.
Through Ms. Ryan, parents of challenged children will experience the optimism, hope, failure and overwhelming anxiety of an articulate woman similarly situated with them. Ryan may give some readers a direct insight into their own particular problem. More likely, readers will experience the patient, resiliant, emotional reality that parenting a disabled child requires.
The "good parent" may offer his or her life to their child. Joan Ryan helps you understand that such a gift is a step-by-step, day-to-day challenge. And that it is an investment, to yourself and your child, with lifelong rewards.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Natalie Girman on February 23, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As a Speech Pathologist reading this book, I could not put it down. I thoroughly enjoyed reading and catching a glimpse of what family's go through after trauma. Every person's/family's experience is different, but everyone's road is challenging and it was uplifting how ALL the Ryan's made it through...thank you for your story.
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By Jennifer Donovan on January 12, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Have you ever had to stand by your child's side as he or she recovered from a devastating accident or illness? The closest I've come is holding my normally active toddler boy who is rendered still by a high fever, or comforting my healthy tween daughter as she is wracked by a violent stomach bug.

This is nothing compared to what parents of special needs children, children with chronic illness, or those involved in serious accidents are dealing with in hospitals in every city every day.

In THE WATER GIVER Joan Ryan shares her experience of nursing her teenage son back to health after he suffers a traumatic brain injury. It's something that no parent wants to face, and about which many parents choose to remain blissfully ignorant instead of facing their worst fears.

However, I find that reading stories such as this remind me to be grateful for the health and safety of my children and to enjoy each moment in the face of the reminder that life is quite fragile. They also help me to be more sympathetic and compassionate towards those who may be facing similar struggles.

This lesson of learning to love and appreciate our children for who they are is exactly what Joan Ryan experienced. The subtitle refers to a mother, a son, and their second chance. You see, when Ryan adopted her son Ryan (who was given his mother's last name as his first name), she never quite felt as if she was connecting with him. With some behavior problems and severe ADHD, he did not live up to the image of the child she imagined raising.

It wasn't until he was in almost-fatal accident when he was sixteen years old that Joan finally felt that she was born as a mother.
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