Monday, September 26, 2011

A Good and Perfect Gift

It's New Books Week at Trish's Dishes! One of my favorite parts of being part of the writing world is that on certain super-special days, I come home to find that a publicist has sent me a review copy of a new book. This week, we have three! (Jazz hands! Glee!)

Today's book is especially close to my heart, as it's a long-awaited memoir from my friend Amy Julia Becker. She and I met three years ago at the Festival of Faith & Writing, and I've watched and cheered as she's chased her dream of sharing her story of her family and her oldest daughter Penny, who has Down syndrome. I wrote a tiny bit about Amy Julia and her family in A Maze of Grace, and blogged about Penny here. So as you can see, I'm not just a friend, I'm a fan :)

A Good and Perfect Gift was my first experience reading a memoir with someone I know in real life (rather than just online). About 45 pages in I realized, "I can't review this would be like reviewing her life!" So I'm not even going to try. But I can recommend it, with great enthusiasm. A.J. is a gorgeous writer who doesn't hesitate to lay bare her faults and struggles.

My favorite scene in the book is toward the middle, when A.J. and her husband Peter are driving home, discussing how to make sense of all the unknowns that go with having a child with a disability. She says to him:

"I just want good stories.... I want to hear that this kid with Down syndrome loves the tuba and this other one loves playing golf with his dad and this one had a hard time with spelling but loves to dance. Or whatever it is. I don't want statistics and predictions of who she will never be. I just want stories."

This is what makes her story (and mine, and yours) universal: We all need other stories to remind us of the larger realm of what is possible...and how very differently our lives can turn out, with options far more varied and interesting than statistics suggest. I'm grateful to Amy Julia for adding hers to the now you can read it, too :)

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