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From Grief to Celebration, How One Family Learned to Embrace the Gift of Down Syndrome Paperback – December 20, 2010
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The child--who is actually now a young woman--is named Alex. And through the pages of this book you'll fall in love with her. But I think even more, you'll fall in love with the author, Margaret "Gary" Bender. In these pages, Gary bares her soul. She shares every painful, joyful and revolutionary moment of her experience as a parent, and she does so not only out of love for Alex--and her family--but also out of what appears to be a need to advocate for all parents who have children with special needs.
This book must be added to the bibliography Gary provides in the chapter titled "Research," which includes a list of books she sought and read when Alex was born in 1993. If you indeed have a baby with Down syndrome, please put Gary's book at the top of your list. You will learn many things, but you will especially know that you are not alone; you will learn how to advocate; and you will learn to embrace and celebrate your child/situation. And as any parent will tell you, just like kids without special needs, our babies grow up very quickly. You will learn your Down syndrome child might not do everything like walk and talk and potty train according to what you thought was normal, but she/he will learn. And she/he will also teach YOU things you never imagined.
What makes this book additionally noteworthy for parents with and without children of special needs, is that Gary allows us to see how universal the experience of parenting truly is. In other words, I found Gary to be not only an advocate for parents of children with Down syndrome; but also, she helps us recognize and remember the individual needs of all children. In a particularly moving segment of the book, she shares the feelings of Alex's sister and brother. Her sister's college essay is well written and very moving.
The book--a quick read--is organized according to a list of verbs that Gary believes has defined their experience. As the title suggests, the verbs begin with "Grief" and culminate in "Celebration." The verbs she uses, numbered from 1-10 plus the bonus, are relatable to parenting and, frankly, life in general. I give this book my highest recommendation.
Michele Cozzens is the author of Irish Twins.
I read tomes about parents dealing - their stories of learning to accept and love their children, but in all honesty, I think when you are faced with the knowledge that your unborn child will be coming with an extra chromosome, it's enough to just grapple with all the prejudice and stereotypes out there regarding Down syndrome. It's hard to really, truly handle and relate to many of the memoirs - those have a better time and place later, in my opinion.
Margaret "Gary" Bender (- yes, she is a woman and her nickname is "Gary"!) wrote a gem of a slim book about how her family learned to embrace Down syndrome. She divided the book into 10 chapters - with a bonus one! - and folded each of the chapters into a verb that related to her path of 'grief to acceptance'. They are short. They are easy to read. They are, in my opinion, bite-sized, perfect for a new parent, or one who is just entering the world of parenting a child with Down syndrome.
The chapters and topics covered are flexible in that they are not too specific nor too broad. As they speak from the mother of a teenager with Down syndrome - rather than a young child - there is a ring of assurance, confidence and positivity that can only be gained from years of actual experience. While there is an awful lot of material from parents of young children with Down syndrome, there is remarkably little from parents of older teens.
I personally enjoyed the anecdotal natural of the book. Gary is a blogger, and her book reads a bit like a blog. It's direct, unpretentious. I wish I had read it when I was first starting out - and I sincerely hope word spread on this great little nugget, giving new parents a glimpse into a happy future, with pointers to be aware of along the way.
(first posted on the blog, With a Little Moxie: (...))
Most recent customer reviews
this is really good