Before we Wrap up #DSAM2014
Today and tomorrow we have special treats for you! Let’s start with a giveaway. Woohoo! I have shamelessly asked the publishers to donate a copy of Sherry Palmer’s honest and delightful read, Life With Charley: A Memoir of Down Syndrome Adoption. They provided me with an electronic copy, which I will now review for you. In case you don’t know this about me already, the following opinions are, in fact, my own. 🙂
I Laughed, I Cried…
In our house a common review phrase, if we like something, is “I laughed; I cried; it was better than Cats!” (I think this came originally from a SNL sketch, not sure, and not a complete assessment, because pretty much anything is better than Cats. Just my opinion.) That said, I did laugh; I did cry; I do suggest this book.
Let’s start with the summary, A pastor and his wife adopt a child with Down syndrome, this memoir is that adventure.
“Brace yourselves,” I said. “I’m sort of pregnant.”
The room exploded. People were on their feet hugging me and asking, “So when are you due?”
“As soon as we can fly to Texas and pick him up.”
And so it began.
The storyline is occasionally interrupted with footnotes information about Down syndrome or a condition or applicable information associated with it, but rarely. I emphasize, rarely. Because this is not a how-to book for families expecting a child or with a child with DS, no, this is a how-we-are book, and that’s it. As Palmer states early on,
I have written this with the best sense of Charley. So forgive me if I don’t speak for Down syndrome people everywhere; I’m no expert.
She emphasizes that every child/person is unique, this is their story and theirs alone.
Palmer’s memoir is self-aware but not self-centered. She shares her own reactions to situations and experiences honestly, but the story is not limited by her perspective; we meet many other people who have also come into the lives of the Palmers and have shaped their Charley Experience along the way. Of course, being a family with the church, there were many moves, and these brought new opportunities to introduce Charley into new communities. Palmer shared the highs and lows learning how to let go, how to allow Charley to teach his ways, and to embrace help. And it really is a unique story.
As you know, cause you’re here, I too have an adult son with Down syndrome and though I agree with the recurring themes of Palmer’s thesis: Unconditional love and What Charley has to teach us, our story does not parallel hers. Our boys are definitely unique to one another. In fact, even I marveled at that. Marcus is not Charley. Charley is not Marcus. (Are you surprised at how surprised I am? Me too.) Back to synopsis. Palmer does an excellent job of recreating dialogue, it keeps the pace up, as well as the focus not soley on our storyteller. Again, this book is not the term that floats in pubishing circles, a Me-moir.
That said, my favorite chapter is when the Palmers, “Re-Wed.” It is one of the chapters where we get to live inside of Sherry Palmer a bit more, see the world as a narrative through her eyes. After details of the day, the dress, the event, the crowd, it comes down to this:
It’s good to be reminded of your journey. The goods and the bads, who we were, who we are.
And it’s lovely. It’s possible this book started, at least in parts, from her blog: Life With Charley. Which she continues to keep up, check it out. And if this review doesn’t convince you to pick up her book, the blog will. In fact, I should’ve just sent you to the blog, but I know how good you are at following directions. ANYway, my point is that although the stories within Life with Charley span over twenty years, they are each told as separate nuggets. This is good if you are like me and have difficulty committing to a book that is over 400 pages. You can read, come back, read, come back. You will want to turn the pages, but if the length of the book deters your decision to buy, don’t worry! Small pieces is the way to go. That is, I believe, how she wrote it over years and years of experiences and adventures, so reading it over a month instead of a weekend, will work out fine.
Courage in Truth
Lastly, I want to emphasize the quality and honesty of her voice. There is no sugar coating to a few of the trickier situations they have found themselves in, to the occasional heartache or to the fear that I expect nearly every mother feels for her son. By telling her own truths, she braves it all. The line that struck me most, “Writing isn’t easy. Writing means telling the truth when I want to lie.”
Now you, if you can’t wait, go ahead and click the Amazon Link and purchase on Kindle right now. However, if you want to try your luck and enter the giveaway below, a winner will be pulled in one week and The Zharmae Publishing Press will send you a FREE Copy. Woohoo! I say, do both!