The Bottom Line
By Beth Kephart; 249 pages. From the book jacket: "This is a book about a little boy and his mother. It is about a child who against all odds is learning to live in this world, to even, incredibly, make it better."
A personal parenting memoir, this particular mother-and-boy story starts at his birth and runs through the onset of elementary school, with a PDD diagnosis, a search for appropriate services, much soul-searching, a million little toy cars, and a really eccentric green hat along the way.
- Child's unique qualities are celebrated.
- Parents can relate to author's doubts and worries.
- May encourage you to dream bigger dreams for your child.
- Short chapters make for quick reading.
- Enjoyable just as a piece of writing, whether or not it relates to your particular situation.
- Episodic style makes it hard to follow child's progress all the way through.
- Transitions seem to happen quickly.
- If your child's development didn't follow this path, may make you second-guess your own actions.
- Inspirational rather than practical.
- Highly literary style might not appeal to everyone.
Reaching for my son
- Hard knocks
Where silence starts
Looking for help
- One sudden, quiet knowing
Working it out
- Waiting for the Red Baron
Afternoon concert, minor keys
- Child's play
The farmer in the dell
A slant of sun
- From here to there
- What falls away
Guide Review - Book Review: A Slant of Sun - One Child's Courage
Personal stories of overcoming heavy odds to help children with special needs are irresistible reading for parents. What a relief to know that others have struggled with the same feelings and issues, to see our own stressful experiences transformed through fine writing into works of reflection and art. No two families are the same, but we often find enough similarities to make us feel a little bit less alone in the world. For any parent who’s ever watched a child line up little toy cars, or perseverate on phrases, or remain solitary in a roomful of children, “A Slant of Sun” will provoke smiles and nods of recognition.
There’s a downside to such stories, though: If those recognizable children follow a different path to a different outcome than your own, it’s easy to feel bad, or sad, or angry. So much about Kephart’s son reminded me of mine, but my guy came nowhere close to ending up “a successful second grader at a country Quaker school.” Intellectually, I know that despite some overlap in their behaviors, their diagnoses were not the same, and a similar developmental path was unlikely. But emotionally, I’m caught: If I had worked more intensively with my boy, chosen different preschool options, fought harder or differently, would he have “won the battle against his genes?” Probably not, but it hurts my heart to wonder.
“A Slant of Sun” is beautifully written and inspirational, if you can avoid the personal second-guessing that may come along with it.