Tuesday, July 3, 2012

From Grief to Celebration: Review and {Giveaway}

When Gary (Margaret) Bender emailed me and asked me if I'd like to give away a copy of her book on my blog, I was excited.  I'd read a few reviews on the T21 Writers Alliance page, and although I contribute to that site, I hadn't picked up Gary's book yet.

What first struck me about From Grief to Celebration was the fact that Gary is the parent of an older child with Down syndrome; her daughter Alex was 17 at the time the book was written.  While I loved Bloom and A Good and Perfect Gift, both books were written by parents of younger children.  Gary offers the distance and perspective years can bring.  The book is a fast read, and I read it on a flight as Ellie napped in the Bjorn.

From Grief to Celebration is based around ten verbs that Gary and her family contributed in processing Alex's Down syndrome diagnosis.  I appreciated Gary's story of receiving the news that Alex was not going to be the baby she expected, although that story is now a familiar one.  Gary's writing style is tight, and she gets to the point without becoming dry.  Her descriptions of advocating for Alex encouraged me, because I'm grateful for moms who have gone ahead of me to promote inclusion.

My favorite passage of the book was something that surprised me.  While I desire for Ellie to be included with her typical peers, I want her to find her place in the special needs community as well.  I want her to thrive.  In the chapter on "Include," Gary writes:

"What I didn't believe at the time, but know now, is that Alex shines when she's with other people with disabilities.  She can interact equally, both socially and competitively.  She feels genuine friendship, pride, and success."

Another mom of a child with special needs that I know has mentioned her daughter having "many circles," and I think Alex's social life as described by Gary reflects a bit of this.  School, general education, special education, Special Olympics, our local Down syndrome group - I want Ellie to find her place in each.

I would recommend From Grief to Celebration to any parent of a child with Down syndrome looking for a memoir that takes them farther down the road, beyond early childhood and into adolescence.

And now, it's your turn to read.  In order to enter, leave a comment on this post telling me why you want the book, tell me why you want to read about Down syndrome, or just tell me why you're awesome.  

THE FINE PRINT: The winner will be chosen via random.org, and entries will close on July 10 at 11:00 PM Eastern Time.  The winner must be in the United States and over 18.  I was given a copy of From Grief to Celebration to review, but the opinions are all my own.  The winner will be announced on this blog and notified via email if possible and will have 3 days to respond, or a new winner will be selected.  I cannot be held liable for random.org mishaps, Blogger malfunctions, email malfunctions, broken iPads, iPhones, Blackberries, or other technology related issues.  I can't be held liable for shipping issues, weather problems, or crying babies.  I was given a copy of From Grief to Celebration, but the opinions are all my own.
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  1. I am a grandmother, so I have a different perspective on the journey from "Grief to Celebration". Molly was adopted at birth. My husband and I were thrilled to be grandparents, but we couldn't understand why our daughter and her husband would choose to have a baby with Down Syndrome. I did a lot of reading and tried to prepare myself about what to expect. I actually had a woman doctor in her 70s tell me to talk my daughter out of it, that it was too much work and heartache. I fell totally in love with Molly from the start. At 15 months, she is just one of the grandkids, just one of the cousins and just one of the kids in daycare. I realize that as she gets older, Molly will not always be accepted as she is now. It breaks my heart that she will be judged on her appearance or her disabilities. So I can totally see that finding a niche across "many circles" is very important to kids with disabilities. Gary's book would be a great help to ease my worry about the future.

  2. My daughter is 17 months old, and it is as simple as wanting to read stories of other peoples journeys and the encouragment and trials they went through. I fear for my daughters future sometimes, and I would love to get a perspective of a parent of an older child with DS. I am wildly optomistic and very encouraging, but there is always that little bit of lingering fear. I have read many books and I feel like my daughter is doing very well. However I have no idea what to expect and being a younger parent, I have a tendancy to obsess. I would love to have an idea on what to expect. I know that everyone is different and the chances of my child being like another is slim, but I never turn down the chance to be informed. If you swing over to my blog awonderfulkindoflife.blogspot.com you will see that our daughters are a lot a like. That has no relevance to this giveaway. I just thought it was cute how much Ellie reminds me of my daughter Averie.

  3. Sounds like a good one to read. I'll be putting it on my short list!

  4. I hadn't heard of this book until i saw your post on ig and now am so wanting to read it. Ethan who is 4 1/2 down syndrome and a seizure disorder we find.it hard sometimes to connect.say with the typical books of bloom so I would love to see a different insight.

    Your daughter is the cutest


  5. I read memoirs written by parents of kids with Ds as often as I can get my hands on them...I think it is freeing to know that other parents feel the same as we do and as a mom with a younger child, I appreciate hearing from parents further along in the journey that everything turns out okay in the end (not that I don't already know that...but there's just something peaceful about a happy ending, right?)

  6. I hadn't heard of this one either. As Mom to Eli who is just starting his journey (wait - has it been over a year already??) I am interested in hearing from others who are ahead of us on the road.

    Lisa D. (Eli's mom)

  7. I enjoy Gary's blog very much. She is helpful - reassuring - encouraging - challenging - and I appreciate her perspective as a parent of a teenager with Down syndrome. Ben's not quite one year old yet, so I have a lot to learn, and I have yet to meet any parents of teens with Ds in real life. The internet has provided lots of examples for me, and I'm thankful. Why do I want to read the book? Because I need all the help I can get! :)

  8. I've read Gary's blog and enjoy getting the glimpse of the life of an older child with Down syndrome. I haven't read the book. Looks like I need to add it to my list!

  9. Alysia (armstro3@msn.com)Tuesday, July 03, 2012 11:35:00 PM

    I hadn't heard of this book either until reading your post. I want to read it because I want to read anything I can get my hands on that can give me another perspective! My son is 14 months old and I think he's doing well but I still struggle. The ups are longer now and the downs shorter, but I still haven't fully accepted everything. I would like to think someday I will not care at all, and not feel sad ever. Right now, Max is a cute baby that everyone adores. I worry about what happens when he gets older and isn't just another cute baby who can do no wrong. What happens when he is older and his differences are more noticable? I love reading books about Ds because you can really learn how the person really feels deep down inside. Talking to people in real life is totally wonderful and I couldn't live without it, but you don't really get as deep in a typical conversation as you would from reading a memoir. I would love to read the book to learn from the author and to hopefully find some more comfort. Thanks for letting me know this book exists!

  10. Love the review! My daughter is now 12 and I have so looked up to Gary and Alex as role models for my daughters possible future and to get that perspective! Come by my blog for a glimpse of 7-12! Sorry that sounds like an ad but it's really just a warm invite :)

  11. It is great that there is another source of inspiration for DS families -


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