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Readers' Choice: Favorite New Special-Needs Memoir

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Finalist: Crazy Love
Crazy Love by Sharie Walter
Cover image courtesy of Sharie Walter

Title: Crazy Love
Subtitle: A Traumedy About Life With Autism
Author: Sharie Walter
Length: 94 pages
Website: books.google.com
Finalist for: Favorite Special-Needs Memoir

Message from the Author: "The day when Macy's store security informed me that my five-year-old daughter was boarding a crowded elevator, dragging a naked mannequin by his head, leaving behind a trail of plaster limbs and fine menswear, was the day absurdity was welcomed as the new world order in the Walter household. Autism isn’t funny. Yet, sometimes laughter rises feebly out of the ashes of tragedy, a little befuddled and slightly singed, like a hungover phoenix after Mardi Gras. As a mother caught in the twin headlights of reality and insanity, I wrote Crazy Love: a Traumedy About Life with Autism to capture the dark humor that careens out of control when autism is at the wheel. It was written at a time when the memoir market featured mostly books of a sad and sentimental nature; my goal was to serve up some fresh-as-roadkill humor with a side of saucy candor. By daring to say what the meek amongst us only dream of and shooting from the hip when it comes to dealing with the world of regular folk, my hope was to liberate those raising children with autism from the normal expectations of parenting and to embrace a new consciousness. While unconsciousness is my preferred state, I discovered that waking hours required great heaping gobs of strength to wade through the ballyhoo of living, and it was best achieved with a robust sense of humor. Even the hardship of raising a severely autistic child can have a positive spin if you adjust your perspective. Yes ... laughter is my sweet salvation. That, and the moonshine still in my basement."

Excerpt from Crazy Love:

The Diet from Hell
You know the one I'm talking about. It's a gluten-free, casein-free, soy-free, sugar-free, additive-free, preservative-free, dye-free, flavor-free diet that is NOT free. As a matter of fact, it costs much more to eat a lot less. The whole diet consists of little more than the Holy Fruit of the Himalayas and Fritos®. Life was deliciously simple before GF/CF. Everything on the drive-thru menu was fare game and just a garbled pubescent voice on a loudspeaker away from our bellies. On the GF/CF diet the choices have dwindled to fries: small or large? No more lingering over greasy diner menus or caressing the flashing signs of junk food junctions. Who knew gluten could be so good? Now I forage in Whole Foods for things that sound like small island nations: salvia, ghee, spelt, xanthan, quinoa. You know you've been inducted as a card-carrying soldier in the natural foods army corps when your Whole Foods cashier bellows over the loudspeaker: "Attention Soup Swami: please bring up two cans of cream of goat goulash and one can of mock tofutti turtle soup to check stand three."

Let’s have a little chat about infractions. When one happens, oh ho -- you'll know. A bomb-raid siren will start blasting: "INFRACTION! INFRACTION! TAKE COVER NOW! ARM YOURSELVES! For the love of God HIIIIIIIIIIIDE!" One memorable melee occurred after Vivi ate a handful of Gummi Bears. Those horrid little fruity beasts -- a toxic dump of dye, wax and corn syrup -- wield a diabolic power capable of transforming our children into monsters. For those of you who haven’t experienced the diet infraction version of your child, picture this: a chipmunk on crack. A rabid, frothing-at-the-mouth varmint running amok and trampling all over the home-sweet-home landscape of your life until it's full of potholes and poop. I feel like the opiate den mother riding the raging peptide over hell's high waters with no land in sight. My little science experiment has gone sour. I mix those vitamin cocktails three times a day with the confidence of Carrie on prom night (sans the pig's blood). But what do I know? I am the last person who should be trusted with anything involving beakers, measuring spoons and chemical shenanigans. Can probiotics associate with enzymes? Or should they be separated like pre-teen wallflowers at their first school dance? And can lactobacillus acidophilus be a chaperone, allowing the kids to do the digestion disco? What about B-13? I know I have a jar here somewhere....what's that for again? Modulating the amygdala force field so the neurotransmitters don't throw the dopamine receptors off the frontal lobe like lemmings into a serotonin stew with nary an endorphin to save them. Huh? Supplements, schlupplements ... where’s the scotch?

 

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