The Bottom Line
By Ann Yurcek; 470 pages. From the cover: "Ann Yurcek, the mother of eleven children, takes you on a rare and wonderful journey of wholeness in parenting a critically ill child and adopting a family with extraordinary needs."
For all its length, I blew through this book in a weekend. It's the kind of read where you strap yourself in and hang on for dear life as it pulls you through episodes of incredible grief, struggle, challenge, triumph, tragedy, risk and reward. If it was a novel, you'd never believe it, but it's one family's true story. And what a family.
- Deals with a full range of special needs, from medical to behavioral, emotional, and mental-health
- Tells a powerful story of what a determined family can do
- Presents challenging events truthfully without dwelling on them
- Straightforward, brisk writing keeps the story rolling like the roller-coster life the family lives
- It will make your problems look modest by comparison
- Some readers may wish for a more in-depth look at some of these family crises
- At almost 500 pages, there's a whole lot of story here
- You may question some of the decisions this family makes, though never their love and good will
- Part 1 - One Small Gift: The Beginning; Broken Dreams & Shattered Hearts; NICU; Intention; Letting Go; Thanksgiving;
- Homecoming; Back Again; Christmas; Believe; Home Sweet Home; Miracles of the Heart; Quarantine; Nurse Vaders; One;
- A New Normal; The Yurceks of Oz and Toto Too; Home Alone; Blessings in Disguise; Hands Up; Milestones;
- Ducks, Rabbits & Papers; Fun; Med School; Life Goes On; Just Another Kid; Pay Back; Celebrations.
- Part 2 - Miracles by the Dozen: The Arrival of Someday; New Kids on the Block; In the Trenches; Puzzle Pieces;
- Cheaper by the Dozen?; Dreams Come True; Schedules, Activities & Logistics; Falling Fast; Hanging On; In a Shoe;
- Holiday Blessings & Blues; Repeat, Repeat, Repeat; Pinball; Surviving; Questions; SOS; Tables Are Turned;
- Home Away from Home; Life Goes On; The Surgeon; Never Ending Backpacks; Iraq; Coming Home; Forgiveness.
- Part 3 - The Journey Continues: All Grown Up; The Dream; Full Circle.
Guide Review - Book Review: Tiny Titan
To raise a family of 11 kids, many with significant special-needs, Ann Yurcek's had to learn how to stretch a dollar and get maximum value out of every acquisition. That same multitasking applies to her book, which offers at least four fascinating tales for the price of one. There's the story of Becca, the "tiny titan" of the title, born with Noonan syndrome and holding tenaciously to life despite dire predictions and medical mismanagement. There's the story of the sibling group the Yurceks adopt after Becca's medical condition stabilizes, all of them suffering, to varying degrees, the effects of childhood neglect and abuse, fetal alcohol exposure, and mental illness. There's the story of Ann herself, forced by circumstance to go from being "just a mom" to being a powerful and knowledgeable advocate for her biological children, her adoptive children, and finally the children of others as well -- all while holding a home and family together under circumstances of enormous financial and emotional strain. And there's the story of Ann's husband, Jim, who starts out as an overworked carpet salesman, enduring his boss's unreasonable demands to keep his family in food and health insurance, and ends up going through medical school with flying colors and becoming a surgeon. Though that last story gets the least emphasis, it's a significant thread, I think -- so many special-needs memoirs trace a mother's journey to empowerment with the husband at best playing a supporting role, at worst ditching out early. It's great to see a dad transformed by his children's challenges, too.
With so very much story to tell, and so many children to give recognition to, this is not a book that pauses much to reflect. That's okay with me. There are plenty of books that offer reflection, endless reflection. This one leaves the reflection to you.