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Comment: This book has already been loved by someone else. It MIGHT have some wear and tear on the edges, have some markings in it, or be an ex-library book. Over-all it is still a good book at a great price! (if it is supposed to contain a CD or access code, that may be missing)
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Expecting Adam: A True Story of Birth, Rebirth, and Everyday Magic Paperback – August 2, 2011

4.2 out of 5 stars 320 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Expecting Adam 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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Harmony; Reprint edition (August 2, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307719642
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307719645
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (320 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #120,569 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By John M. Foraker on March 8, 2000
Format: Hardcover
As a mother of an eight month old baby with Down Syndrome, I avoided this book at first because I thought it would be too wrenching and close to home. It had the opposite effect. It has been an absolutely incredible experience. Martha Beck bravely and genuinely shares her true account of her pregnancy and experiences before and after her son Adam's birth. She discovers he has Down Syndrome before he is born but cannot even consider abortion. Throughout the nine months, Martha (and her husband)experience many paranormal/spiritual events. This might seem unconvincing or even wacky from any other source, but as a Harvard trained academician, Martha makes her story not only plausible but grippingly real. Her sense of humor is hilarious and I openly laughed out loud several times! I also openly wept at her raw and vivid descriptions of the revulsion so many of us have for those who are different. I think this book is a fantastic tool for parents of children with disabilities to give to the outside world. This is how we see our children, truly! It would also be a terrific book for any teacher or educator to read. To me, it's been a hope, a salve, an inspiration.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Maya Angelou once said that "there is no greater agony than holding an untold story inside of you." This piece of work represents Martha Beck's luminous journey towards choosing to mother Adam, her son who was prenatally diagnosed with Down's Syndrome.
Like many mothers of exceptional children I've known, Martha has touched on the one theme most of us feel reluctant to talk about--that our lives are peppered with unexplainable, prescient experiences that served to pave our way towards accepting a child that a highly educated world often believes is less than worthy of a chance at life.
Because Ms. Beck's Harvard Education and academic's resume brings the reader into a metaphycial journey towards coming to accept Adam through a skeptics eyes, her story seems more credible than that of the average person who sits down to write a book that says "oh, but my child is so much more than what he seems."
Martha's tale is as convincing as it is spellbinding. Her range as a writer is vast--she is both a comedian and an accomplished dramatist.
Expecting Adam hits its intended mark. It reminds us that every child comes into this world for reasons that often lay beyond the realm of human reckoning. It offers proof that all lives have purpose, meaning and dignity. On top of all this, Expecting Adam offers the reader the benefit of an excellent writer.
As the mother of two boys with autism, one who "came back" and one who "didn't", I commend this writer for sharing her story.
Ms. Beck's experiences felt universal to me, and true in a way I can't begin to put into words.
When I look into my children's eyes, I understand without reservation that nothing is left to chance. Like Ms. Beck, I feel both humbled and awed by the opportunity to mother children like mine.
It is impossible to read "Expecting Adam", and fail to see that every life has meaning and dignity.
For all things, there is a season...
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Format: Hardcover
I was surprised by the review describing Martha Beck as a whiner. I read this book yesterday (yes, in one day--I was mesmerized) and can't remember any whining. It was the opposite--a description of her joy, wonderment, and surprise that life could hold what it began to hold for her when she was expecting her son, Adam. I can't get this book out of my mind; I am still processing it. Although I am not a skeptic about supernatural things, her experiences don't exactly fit into my worldview and I'm trying to figure out what they might mean. Meanwhile, however, the book changed my perceptions of what it might be like to have a child with Down Syndrome (something I've contemplated and even researched before, when a friend got suspicious test results during her pregnancy). And I thought the descriptions of her life at Harvard were equally as fascinating as anything else in the book. As the wife of a former academic, I was both amused and amazed by her encounters with people at Harvard and her own ivory tower naivete, and as a southwesterner I had a bit of a culture shock reading about people who would just step over a pregnant woman who had fainted rather than stop to help her. This book is very well written and full of incredible insights and experiences (I read many passages aloud to my husband). I think parts of the story will resonate with anyone who has been struck by the incredible, unbelievable gift of a baby, as I have been with my own son. I imagine that those who are suspicious of anything they can't see will find much to narrow their eyes at while reading this book, yet it seems to me that only those who have never known what it's like to love a child could truly dislike it.
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Format: Paperback
Let me begin with the good news: Expecting Adam is beautifully written, compelling, insightful, witty, and clever. In short, it's a good book. A really good one. I laughed, I cried, I highlighted certain memorable phrases, I read the first few pages aloud to my husband (an unwilling listener if ever there was one), and I passed the book along to my mother with a high recommendation. I don't regret buying it. It will stay on my shelf, and I might even read it again someday.

Now for the bad news: the author of Expecting Adam, Martha Beck, is a highly questionable source of "non-fiction."

Just as Martha has those weird Japanese puppets whispering sweet nothings in her ear, I also have a keen sense of intuition that speaks to me. Somewhere around the scene of the apartment fire, it began tapping me on the shoulder and blurting out uncomfortable adjectives like paranoid, negligent, self-important, histrionic, and exaggerated. I was enjoying the book too much to be bothered with my pesky intuition. By the time I reached the last page, my intuition had become downright rude, tossing around unkind observations such as opportunistic and delusional. The words "ulterior motive" seemed to flash before my eyes.

It wasn't until I did some research on Martha Beck (the real and true Martha Beck of shared reality) that my intuition really started name calling.

Maybe my intuition is a bit harsh. Martha may not be a liar and she may not be crazy (two words that I will admit crossed my mind), but she certainly misrepresented herself and her marriage in this book.
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