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The Boy Who Loved Tornadoes Hardcover – March 30, 2010
This month's Book With Buzz: "The Lying Game" by Ruth Ware
From the instant New York Times bestselling author of blockbuster thrillers "In a Dark, Dark Wood" and "The Woman in Cabin 10" comes Ruth Ware’s chilling new novel, "The Lying Game." See more
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From Publishers Weekly
An academic and writer at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, offers a dense, achingly inconclusive tale about her developmentally challenged son, whose difficulties remain elusively untreatable and largely undiagnosed. Davenport writes poignantly about her increasing sense of helplessness over the years as her son, Chase, moving into his teens, grows harder and harder to manage, from his inability to focus and sit still, to his paranoia and obsession with morbid thoughts, his seizures, to his eruptive agitation and truculence that eventually warranted long-term hospitalization. What was wrong with him? Davenport lists the dozens of doctors' suggestions over the years, from autism and severe ADHD to seizure disorder, psychosis, and schizophrenia. Yet, stubbornly, Chase's diagnosis remains unnamable, and a plethora of drugs often fail him, such as Clozaril, which checked his psychosis but left him vegetative. Chase's indefinable state proves problematic for insurance providers, who cut off his hospital coverage though no long-term care facility will take him. As a result, Chase has to spend a frightening stint at the state mental hospital. Davenport's memoir is intensely thorough and affecting. (Mar.)
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Davenport’s painful story reveals how she, husband Zip, and also his physician responded when their son Chase began exhibiting behavioral irregularities as a tot. The doctor’s assessment was that Chase may have had developmental problems but nothing to fret over. Chase entered school, and his difficulties escalated. Teachers requested numerous parent conferences, and Chase was frequently sent home for disruptive behavior. School counselors and specialists couldn’t pinpoint a particular diagnosis that encompassed Chase’s problems. Alternately considered autistic, behaviorally disabled, and more, depending on who was consulted, and because Chase fit into no neatly defined niche, most clinical interventions failed. When he became fully psychotic as a teen, he entered the rabbit hole that is the American mental health care system. It’s difficult to say which is more painful: Chase’s illness or Davenport’s efforts to advocate for him as the by-then divorced, single mom tried to navigate a system full of blind alleys and dead ends. This is a story with which far too many families can probably identify. --Donna Chavez
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Top customer reviews
mental illness on a family who struggles to find help in a world where the system puts up road blocks at every turn. This important story should be a wake-up call for all of us who think we'll never have to worry about things like autism or bipolar disorder or depression. Randi Davenport helps us understand that even though little is known about these afflictions and that there are no sure treatments, our system for dealing with them needs an overhaul.
Your heart will ache for The Boy Who Loved Tornadoes and for his mother who would not give up until she got the help she needed for her son. Beautifully told.
Davenport has found the courage to chronicle her son's illness without any melodramatic embellishments or overwrought appeals to the reader. Her story is told in a frank, stark, and oddly beautiful style that at once makes her overwhelming love for her children plain, though she does not attempt to paint herself as a heroine or as anything other than a mother struggling to do the best for her kids in an impossible situation.
I have read many memoirs in which forgettable writing is made up for by an interesting story, and others in which a rather boring, ordinary narrative is rendered memorable through the use of skilled writing. This falls into neither of those categories.
The Boy Who Loves Tornadoes is one of those rare memoirs in which a truly captivating story is brought to life by a talented writer. Davenport's prose is spare, gorgeous, and incredibly affecting. This moving story of her son's illness, her daughter's sadness, and the desintegration of their family plays out like a feature film, with characters so well drawn that they appear in the reader's head.
The structure of the book pulls the reader along like a pair of speeding trains, with scenes from the present interspersed with memories from the past, until the two timelines crash together and create one heartbreakingly clear picture of a child in crisis.
This is a book written by a mother about her children and her attempts to do her best for both of them, especially her son, who is diagnosed with developmental disabilities and mental illness. Yet this book will not appeal merely to the parents of children with special needs, or the parents of any children, or to people who love someone with a disability. This book speaks to the humanity and the ability to love that is inside all of us. I highly recommend this book to anyone who has ever loved anyone else. Period.