Expecting Adam: A True Story of Birth, Rebirth, and Everyday Magic

Beck, Martha

Published by Times Books, 1999
ISBN 10: 0812929802 / ISBN 13: 9780812929805
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Synopsis: "He says you'll never be hurt as much by being open as you have been by remaining closed."

The messenger is a school janitor with a master's in art history who claims to be channeling "from both sides of the veil." "He" is Adam, a three-year-old who has never spoken an intelligible word.  And the message is intended for Martha Beck, Adam's mother, who doesn't know whether to make a mad dash for the door to escape a raving lunatic (after all, how many conversations like this one can you have before you stop getting dinner party invitations and start pushing a mop yourself?) or accept another in a series of life lessons from an impeccable but mysterious source.

From the moment Martha and her husband, John, accidentally conceived their second child, all hell broke loose. They were a couple obsessed with success. After years of matching IQs and test scores with less driven peers, they had two Harvard degrees apiece and were gunning for more. They'd plotted out a future in the most vaunted ivory tower of academe. But the dream had begun to disintegrate. Then, when their unborn son, Adam, was diagnosed with Down syndrome, doctors, advisers, and friends in the Harvard community warned them that if they decided to keep the baby, they would lose all hope of achieving their carefully crafted goals. Fortunately, that's exactly what happened.

Expecting Adam is a poignant, challenging, and achingly funny chronicle of the extraordinary nine months of Martha's pregnancy. By the time Adam was born, Martha and John were propelled into a world in which they were forced to redefine everything of value to them, put all their faith in miracles, and trust that they could fly without a net. And it worked.

Martha's riveting, beautifully written memoir captures the abject terror and exhilarating freedom of facing impending parentdom, being forced to question one's deepest beliefs, and rewriting life's rules. It is an unforgettable celebration of the everyday magic that connects human souls to each other.

Review: Expecting Adam is an autobiographical tale of an academically oriented Harvard couple who conceive a baby with Down's syndrome and decide to carry him to term. Despite everything Martha Beck and her husband John know about themselves and their belief system, when Martha gets accidentally pregnant and the fetus is discovered to have Down's syndrome, the Becks find they cannot even consider abortion. The presence of the fetus that they each, privately, believe is a familiar being named Adam is too strong. As Martha's terribly difficult pregnancy progresses, odd coincidences and paranormal experiences begin to occur for both Martha and John, though for months they don't share them with each other. Martha's pregnancy and Adam (once born) become the catalyst for tremendous life changes for the Becks.

Focusing primarily on the pregnancy but floating back and forth between the present and recent and distant past, Martha Beck's well-written, down-to-earth, funny, heart-rending, and tender book transcends the cloying tone of much spiritual literature. Beck is trained as a methodical academician. Because of her step-by-step explanation of her own progress from doubt to belief, she feels like a reliable witness, and even the most skeptical readers may begin to doubt their senses. When she describes an out-of-body experience, we, too, feel ourselves transported to a pungent, noisy hawker center in Singapore. We, too, feel calming, invisible, supporting hands when she falls. Yet, whether or not readers believe in Beck's experiences is ultimately a moot point. There is no doubt that Adam--a boy who sees the world as a series of connections between people who love each other--is a tremendous gift to Beck, her family, and all who have the honor of knowing him. --Ericka Lutz

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Title: Expecting Adam: A True Story of Birth, ...
Publisher: Times Books
Publication Date: 1999
Binding: Hardcover
Book Condition: Used: Good

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