A Slant of Sun: One Child's Courage

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9780393027426: A Slant of Sun: One Child's Courage

At a time when as many as one in five children face the challenge of growing up with a behavioral disorder, more and more parents are finding themselves at a loss to know how best to raise their children.

For Beth Kephart’s son, the diagnosis was "pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified"―a broad spectrum of difficulties, including autistic features. As the author and her husband discover, all that label really means is that their son Jeremy is "different in a million wonderful ways, and also different in ways that need our help."

In intimate, incandescent prose, Kephart shares the painful and inspiring experience of loving a child whose "special needs" bring tremendous frustration and incalculable rewards. "What, in the end, are you fighting for: Normal?" Kephart asks. "Is normal possible? Can it be defined? . . . And is normal superior to what the child inherently is, to what he aspires to, fights to become, every second of his day?"

With the help of passionate parental involvement and the kindness of a few open hearts, Jeremy slowly emerges from a world of obsessive play rituals, atypical language constructions, endless pacing, and lonely frustrations. Triumphantly, he begins to engage others, describe his thoughts and passions, build essential friendships. Ultimately this is a story of the shallowness of medical labels compared to a child's courage and a mother's love, of which Kephart writes, "Nothing erodes it. It is not sand on a beach. It is the nuclear heart of things―hard as the rock of this earth."

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Review:

The hardest part of being a parent is the certain knowledge that there are some things you can't control. When Beth Kephart's son Jeremy was labeled with the unsettlingly vague diagnosis of pervasive developmental disorder (a behavioral disorder related to autism) in the fall of 1991, there were no definitive medical answers, no guidebooks to Jeremy's inner world, no maps to help Jeremy's mom and dad lead their boy back into the land of relatively uncomplicated childhood. Jeremy was a beautiful child who screamed whenever strangers came near him and spent long hours every day obsessively rearranging his toy cars into indecipherable patterns. He was an early talker, but by the time of his diagnosis Jeremy's speech had degenerated into mindless parroting--a condition known as echolalia. Jeremy's triumph over his disability and his journey to reintegration is the primary story of this beautifully written book, Kephart's first.

The other story, the more universal story, is the haunting account of the symbiosis between mother and child, which grows particularly intense when a child feels pain from which his mother cannot shield him. Kephart's fears that her own maternal failings are somehow implicated in Jeremy's problem stand out as the emotional core of this memoir. Her faith in her son, perseverance, and eventual acceptance of herself play as important a role in his healing process as any course of therapy--and her unflinching descriptions of her own healing are what make A Slant of Sun such a stunning debut. --Patrizia DiLucchio

From the Publisher:

"A Slant of Sun" is a finalist for the 1998 National Book Award for Nonfiction.

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

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