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What happens when love is no longer enough? Jane Bernstein thought that learning to accept her daughter’s disabilities meant her struggles were over. But as Rachel grew up and needed more than a parent’s devotion, both mother and daughter were confronted with formidable obstacles. Rachel in the World, which begins in Rachel’s fifth year and ends when she turns twenty-two, tells of their barriers and successes with the same honesty and humor that made Loving Rachel, Bernstein’s first memoir, a classic in its field. The linked accounts in part 1 center on family issues, social services, experiences with caregivers, and Rachel herself--difficult, charming, hard to fathom, eager for her own independence. The second part of the book chronicles Bernstein’s attempt to find Rachel housing at a time when over 200,000 Americans with mental retardation were on waiting lists for residential services. As Rachel prepares to leave her mother’s constant protection, Bernstein invites the reader to share the frustrations and unexpected pleasures of finding a place for her daughter, first in her family, and then in the world.
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Jane Bernstein, a professor of English and creative writing at Carnegie Mellon University, is the author of Loving Rachel: A Family's Journey from Grief, Bereft--A Sister's Story, and other books. For more, visit www.janebernstein.net.Review:
“Jane Bernstein’s Rachel in the World is a remarkable book about tough love--about the many challenges of raising a child with special needs, and about the woeful inadequacy of terms like ‘special needs.’ It is a fearlessly honest book about disability and family life, in which children with disabilities are not heaven’s special angels, and in which children with disabilities grow up to be adults with disabilities. It is a necessary book, in which parents of children with disabilities worry about the world of social services and group homes and uncomprehending strangers. And it is a bracing book that reminds us how tough a parent’s love can be-- and how the power of love can sustain us in even the toughest times.”
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