- Paperback: 256 pages
- Publisher: Central Recovery Press (May 16, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 194209437X
- ISBN-13: 978-1942094371
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 55 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #511,818 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Not Always Happy: An Unusual Parenting Journey Paperback – May 16, 2017
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Wagner-Peck, Kari. Not Always Happy: An Unusual Parenting Journey, Central Recovery. May 2017. 288p. ISBN 9781942094371. pap. $16.95, CHILD REARING
Freelancer Wagner-Peck and her husband, Ward, decided to become parents when the author was in her 40s. The Maine couple realized that adopting from the foster care system might be their quickest route but never planned on falling in love with Thorin, a toddler with Down syndrome. They quickly learned that―despite strong educational and civil rights laws―discrimination and ignorance are still alive and well. Here they relate shocking encounters that might have been commonplace decades ago yet are unacceptable and happening now. Using her knowledge as an advocate, social worker, and parent who homeschools her son, the author has created the blog ATypicalSon.com, the entries of which form the basis for this book. While this memoir is often humorous, it doesn’t set out to be. VERDICT Recommended reading for every parent.―Virginia Johnson, East Bridgewater P.L., MA
Not Always Happy: An Unusual Parenting Journey, Kari Wagner-Peck. Central Recovery, $15.95 trade paper (288p) ISBN 978-1-942094-37-1
When author Wagner-Peck and her husband adopted a son, Thorin, with Down syndrome, their learning curve was steep. Peck recounts their journey in this intimate peek at three individuals who had to overcome many obstacles before becoming, in Peck’s words, a “forever family.” Navigating state bureaucracies and compliance issues was among the challenges they faced. So were awkward, well-meaning neighbors, Thorin’s occasionally overbearing biological sibling, a grandmother with misgivings, and a large and varied cast of medical professionals. Some challenges were simply the ones that every new parent endures, possibly exacerbated, Wagner-Peck suggests, by her being a 50-year-old first-time parent. This family, however, had a few additional challenges that parents of “typicals” don’t often encounter (beginning with suspicious TSA agents). Navigating the educational system with a special-needs child was one of the family’s biggest and most difficult hurdles. They encountered faculty members with outdated approaches, poorly trained aides, and a multitude of administrative roadblocks. Wagner-Peck relates their challenges and progress with great equanimity, sharing her perseverance as well as her fury. Her “mom lessons” near the book’s conclusion, as well as some poignant final moments in the narrative, will leave many readers teary-eyed. (May)
Reviewed on 04/14/2017
“Not Always Happy is the book that, as a parent of a child with Down syndrome, I have always wanted to read. And, it is the book that I want everyone else to read. . . . drawn with humor and without the opportunistic sentimentality so often used in the literary treatment of disability.”―CATIA MALAQUIAS, founder and director of Starting With Julius, director of Down Syndrome Australia
“Intimate, entertaining, at times hilarious . . . it illustrates that parenting a child with disabilities is really no different than parenting any other child. What is different are the attitudes and obstacles encountered along the way―and that’s the problem we, as community, still need to solve!” ―PETER V. BERNS, Chief Executive Officer, The Arc
“. . . I found myself nodding, laughing, and grumbling audibly―each story feeling frustratingly familiar to me, bringing back memories of my experiences as a disabled person who received a public education. . . . Not Always Happy [is] a gem that’s worth the read.”―EMILY LADAU, wordsiwheelby.com, Editor in Chief of the Rooted in Rights Blog
“With wit, insight, and humor, Wagner-Peck has a written a book for all parents because it gives us the true power of unconditional love.”―BOB KEYES, Arts Reporter at the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram
“I don’t have much in common with Kari’s experience yet I remained glued to her story, gulping it down in two sessions. Your own parenting trajectory need not be the same as hers to understand, sympathize, and thoroughly enjoy hers.”―MERIAH NICHOLS, meriahnichols.com
“Her easy conversational writing will keep you turning pages to seewhat happens next. . . .books about Down syndrome either have made me want to kill myself with their list of all the terrible things about having a baby with Down syndrome or puke at the blessings of it all. Not Always Happy was something that I could relate to and laugh with, and it helped me see Thorin for who he is, not the extra chromosome he has.” ―LIN RUBRIGHT, mother of six, advocate and founder of Anna Foundation for Inclusive Education
“Not Always Happy is a book you’ll be glad to read thanks to Kari Wagner-Peck’s wry humor, unvarnished observations, and memorable anecdotes about her son. . . . Parents of children with disabilities will relate to this mother’s metamorphosis into an advocate.”―ELLEN SEIDMAN, lovethatmax.com
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Kari Wagner-Peck enters motherhood with openness and acceptance. The problem is the rest of the world uses standards that don’t fit her son, standards that don’t fit a lot of people. She is every parent whose child is thrust into a restrictive educational system and a judgmental world. She becomes a champion for her son, Thorin, exposing him to an environment full of possibilities and promise.
Kari Wagner-Peck tells her family story with clarity, wit and heart. You can’t help but like and admire Kari, Ward, and above all Thorin.
This is what I texted my husband during reading it " I'm only on page 8 and I'm literally crying with laughter!" And a few minutes later, " End of page 15 - I'm now crying from love."
As I read along I couldn't wait to find out what happened next, I felt like I was sitting at her kitchen table and living these experiences with her family. One minute I wanted to go and sock a few of those teachers in the nose and the next I was imagining wiping Thorin's tears and then
dreaming of going shopping with him!
I am considering stalking her so I can meet them all!
It's hard to say who is luckier, the amazing Thorin or his cool parents. They both hit the jackpot and I can only hope to be able to follow more of their adventures. Get this book for your summer read, you'll be so glad you did!