The Bottom Line
By Jennifer Graf Groneberg; 292 pages. Subtitle: How I Found My Way Through My Son's First Two Years With Down Syndrome.
Chances are, if you have a child with special needs, somebody somewhere has directed you to the Emily Perl Kingsley essay "Welcome to Holland." Using that chestnut as a starting point, Road Map to Holland tells the story of one family's process of adjusting when one of their twins has Down syndrome, in a way that's both personal and universal. You don't need to be dealing with DS to enjoy this book; if you have a special child, you've traveled these roads.
- Beautifully written memoir is a joy to read
- Parents dealing with difficult diagnoses can relate to the feelings and confusion
- Gives opinions on some materials new parents might receive on Down syndrome
- Includes glossary of terms and list of resources
- Can be enjoyed by parents dealing with special needs other than Down syndrome
- More of an inspirational book than an informational book
- Avery's twin brother gets short shrift in the narrative's focus on Down syndrome
- You may not be ready to leave this family when the book's over
- Chapter 1: At First, It Hurts to Breathe
- Chapter 2: Slipping
Chapter 3: Please, Come Back to Me
- Chapter 4: Home Is Not Where You Thought It Was
- Chapter 5: Caffeine
Chapter 6: Cathy Can't Handle Us
- Chapter 7: They All Do That
Chapter 8: I Think I Remember
- Chapter 9: Some Days Are Better Than Others
Chapter 10: Alphabet Soup
- Chapter 11: Taxi Rides
Chapter 12: More, More
- Chapter 13: Everybody's Baby But My Own
Chapter 14: Parting Gifts
- Chapter Notes, Glossary of Terms, Resources
- "Welcome to Holland" by Emily Perl Kingsley
Guide Review - Book Review - Road Map to Holland
Some parenting memoirs are memorable for the uniqueness of the experiences recounted -- overwhelming odds, unprecedented challenges, heartbreaking choices, unexpected complications. Others are just a joy to read, with writing that captures familiar experiences in a personal and moving way.
Road Map to Holland falls into the latter category. It doesn't have any big twists or mystery diagnoses; the parents learn shortly after birth that Avery, one of their premature twins, has Down syndrome, and spend the rest of the book figuring out what that's going to mean for themselves, their older child, their lifestyle and their relationships. Just the way most of us do, regardless of the diagnoses that have detoured us to Holland.
For parents who are dealing with Down syndrome, the text includes informal reviews of a lot of first books you, like the author, might be picking up, and some recommendations of materials and services. There's also a glossary and a list of books and sites that offer additional resources. Though most of the fears are for the future, there's a fair amount of insensitivity from both friends and strangers for the family to grapple with in the here and now.
Still, since the story ends when Avery is two, and his first years aren't marked by medical complications that sometimes strike kids with his diagnosis, this isn't exactly a primer on DS. Personally, I wouldn't have minded if the focus had expanded a little to include more about Avery's twin, Bennett, and his preemie issues. That's a minor objection, though. If you're in the mood to put down the heavyweight how-tos for a while and read something that speaks to your heart instead of your head, this is an excellent one to curl up with.
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