is an autobiographical tale of an academically oriented Harvard couple who conceive a baby with Down's syndrome and decide to carry him to term. Despite everything Martha Beck and her husband John know about themselves and their belief system, when Martha gets accidentally pregnant and the fetus is discovered to have Down's syndrome, the Becks find they cannot even consider abortion. The presence of the fetus that they each, privately, believe is a familiar being named Adam is too strong. As Martha's terribly difficult pregnancy progresses, odd coincidences and paranormal experiences begin to occur for both Martha and John, though for months they don't share them with each other. Martha's pregnancy and Adam (once born) become the catalyst for tremendous life changes for the Becks.
Focusing primarily on the pregnancy but floating back and forth between the present and recent and distant past, Martha Beck's well-written, down-to-earth, funny, heart-rending, and tender book transcends the cloying tone of much spiritual literature. Beck is trained as a methodical academician. Because of her step-by-step explanation of her own progress from doubt to belief, she feels like a reliable witness, and even the most skeptical readers may begin to doubt their senses. When she describes an out-of-body experience, we, too, feel ourselves transported to a pungent, noisy hawker center in Singapore. We, too, feel calming, invisible, supporting hands when she falls. Yet, whether or not readers believe in Beck's experiences is ultimately a moot point. There is no doubt that Adam--a boy who sees the world as a series of connections between people who love each other--is a tremendous gift to Beck, her family, and all who have the honor of knowing him. --Ericka Lutz
From Kirkus Reviews
Wickedly funny and wrenchingly sad memoirs of a young mother awaiting the birth of a Down syndrome baby while simultaneously pursuing a doctorate at Harvard. Sociologist Beck, now a columnist for Mademoiselle and a regular on the television show Good Day Arizona, became pregnant with her second child in September 1987, a time she and her husband now refer to as ``the month It All Went To Hell.'' To put it mildly, the unexpected pregnancy complicated their busy lives and academic careers. At the time, Beck kept a voluminous and detailed journal of her thoughts, conversations, and experiences, which provided the basis for these memoirs. Early in the pregnancy, Beck began having paranormal experiences that took auditory, visual, and tactile form. In what she refers to as ``the Seeing Thing,'' she would see brief, vivid images of where her husband was on his frequent trips to Asia. Calming voices spoke to her (and to her husband) in times of stress, and invisible helpers rescued her and her young daughter from a burning building. A Mormon turned atheist, Beck cannot explain the presence of comforting spiritual beings during her pregnancy, but she accepts them as real. Once Adam was delivered, she no longer felt ``like the focus of all that magic.'' Adam himself became the source of magic in her life, teaching her values unlike those she had learned at Harvard. In her son she sees wisdom, beauty, and a way of looking at the world that is astonishing and joyous. Besides a sense of humor that pokes as much fun at herself as anyone, Beck has both a sharp eye and a sharp tongue. Her portraits of Harvard academics, omniscient doctors, and uptight in-laws are priceless. Even skeptics will find magic in this story, and parents of a Down syndrome child will cherish it. -- Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.