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Make a Wish for Me: A Family's Recovery from Autism Paperback – November 10, 2015
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There's something darkly compelling against 'doom memoirs', if only because of that inkling that - in contexts like the one surrounding MAKE A WISH FOR ME - the difficulty of the journey also carries some rich spiritual rewards and a tremendous sense of hope and survival.
Autism, rightly or wrongly, is widely seen as a nightmare diagnosis: it certainly makes, as MAKE A WISH FOR ME spells out, for some complex and overwhelming care conditions many of which are examined in emotive detail. Chergey doesn't pull any punches: her line on first hearing of her son Ryan's autism is 'it feels like he's died', and the pain certainly seeps from the pages for the opening chapters.
But then Chergey comes through the other side, and for all the family issues and stacked up difficulties, there's a sense of progress and positivity to what she writes. Enormously dedicated to her family, she nevertheless offers a cutting and brutally honest assessment of the rejections and the anger that come with her son's day-to-day life.
Despite the difficulties, the book is also a tribute to the help Chergey and her husband found along the way, both the professional help that slowly transformed their son, and the more personal, emotional support that became vital. That support was hard to come by: frustration is a recurring theme, with red tape blocking or complicated many of the necessities (from education to treatment itself). Chergey and her husband battle valiantly against such difficulties, and clearly take so much from the wins. Substantial resources are dedicated to Ryan's progress, the family unwilling to leave any stone unturned.
The style is somewhat bloggy: conversational, broken into relatively small passages, and accessible, emotional descriptions of everyday issues, happily tinged with the humor of a family that are fantastically resilient. Sometimes it reads almost like fiction - in that the 'plot' has real drive and intrigue - though perhaps the reality is easy to extract for a reader who has more direct experience of the subject. What stands out here is that hope is never lost; difficulties never allowed to take control.
I've passed MAKE A WISH FOR ME to a friend closely linked with autism, who says it resonates deeply, in the struggles, the goods days and the bad, and the elation of small victories. He also found it tough at times, in that it brought the harshest moments flooding back.
Not a casual read, then; this is a deeply emotional experience exploring the inner conflict that comes with raising a child on the spectrum, and it will punch against the soul at times. The chapters are short, which is a blessing when it starts to cut. For all the rawness and the glance behind the curtains of such everyday struggles, anyone with an autism spectrum connection - or simply and interest - would be hard pressed to find a better companion.
~James Hendicott for IndieReader
In this deeply felt memoir, Chergey shares her very personal story of living with her son's autism. With direct prose, Chergey's story pulls at readers' heart strings as she pushes through the challenges of her son's diagnosis, his difficulties with speech and sleep, the search for adequate medical care and a supportive school environment, and the stigma attached to the disorder. The sincerity of Chergey's story gives readers with no personal experience of autism an eye-opening account; for those living within the world of autism, Chergey offers hope. "Sometimes acceptance has to punch you in the gut to make its point," she admits. Drawing on medical, school, and church communities and immediate family, Chergey and her husband use every ounce of energy to create a network of people who "get it" and can help him be comfortably autistic and happy. Even if autism has not touched a reader personally, the intimacy and optimism with which Chergey writes will resonate with many readers. -Book Life, Publishers Weekly
About the Author
LeeAndra Chergey was born in the Midwest, but grew up in a pastoral area south of Los Angeles. She holds a BA in English from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. She runs her own home staging business. When she’s not writing, you can find her running, knitting, or reading. Married for twenty years to her college sweetheart, Dan, she has two children, Jenna and Ryan, and a black lab, Ranger. Read more about the background of this book at www.okaysothenisaid.com.
Top customer reviews
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Happy to say the answers were positive in just about every way. The writing was quick and easy and the tone was always positive even when the events described were anything but. I actually found myself rooting for Ryan as if he were just a character in a novel. As a memoir, it made for a good book- if that makes sense.
As for the nuts and bolts of raising a child on the spectrum -- I have trouble using the word autism because it feels too strong, too weighty -- that's where the book shines. Details that any parent who's experienced them will find resonant. It takes strength and confidence to share such personal, often painful events -- which most parents, most people- will never go through. I applaud the author for getting it out there and sharing her family's story with the world.
It was a good read and I wish the entire Chergey family the best of luck and health going forward. Thanks for sharing this. It was worth the time.
As parents of a child with ASD, and readers of the author's blog, we looked forward to reading this book. I can't remember a more emotional read; it spoke to us, and there were many tears, as there were smiles and chuckles; the author tells her family's story, and doesn't hold anything back. Pure, raw emotion.
She becomes a champion for her son.
Furthermore, she becomes a champion for other families going through the same, by sharing their story.
I can't thank the author enough for writing this book. She will help countless families, and show them they are not alone.
The beauty of this family’s love for their child is evident in the fact that there were so many opportunities to just give up. The “system” presents these opportunities frequently, as there’s so much distance between what is offered and what is needed. That is a sad truth. However, the perseverance to fight on is encouraged not by money, or values, or even God, but by the eyes of their child.
Really, this book is not even about fighting the system. Those challenges are there, just as they are for any reasonable citizen who has had to navigate through unreasonable red tape. The victory of this mother and this family is the ability to fight against their own defeatism. Quite simply, no family wants this diagnosis, and its quite clear the emotional fog is not cleared by the rubber stampers. Their emotional fog was lifted by little victories and by love.
The writing is conversational and the chapters are short. There are moments of hilarity and of extreme sadness, victories and defeats. My 14 year old daughter also read it and was moved and empowered. This family’s struggle may help you find something in yourself as it has done for us.
Most recent customer reviews
A friend recommended this book to me after a discussion about another friend's autistic son. And I'm glad she did.Read more