A shy young girl feels isolated when she becomes caregiver to her older brother who is intellectually disabled. In her adult years, she’s forced to deal with the resentment of a lost youth only to return to the role of her brother’s keeper and face more challenges. In the process, she sees the lifelong responsibility in a new light, and finds joy and gratitude in a loving relationship with her brother.
“Breathtaking . . . brutally honest . . . universal. I cried and laughed.”
Kate Clifford Larson
Author of Rosemary, The Hidden Kennedy Daughter
Judge Review, 25th Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards:
The author boldly, vulnerably shares what it is like to have a brother who is intellectually disabled. Her account is a warm, honest, raw, eye opening account of the effects her role as caregiver had on her as a child and as an adult. This duel timeframe gives the book a narrative richness but also a richness of insight for others who have lived through similar experiences. The opening scene showcases just how difficult and complicated this kind of life story can be, but the narrative overall brims with love, hope, and compassion. Alongside the story of her relationship with her brother, the author gives compelling insight into how to build and craft a sense of self when one’s identity is so closely linked with someone else. The pace of the narrative is smooth and swift, transitioning well between different time periods and themes. The narrative arc is strong even as the author embraces the complexity and open ended nature of a true life story. The story balances realistic dialogue along with exposition and summary to keep the story moving and give the narrative texture. For others in similar situations, her voice is a gift and a light. The cover photo aptly conveys the warmth and theme of the book.
Questions for Discussion
- Every family has a struggle. What makes this story unique? What makes it universal?
- Describe the mother/daughter relationship. How and why does it change? What patterns do you observe from one generation to the next?
- Describe how the subject of education influenced the mother, Jimmy, and Joyce.
- Assess the role of the Catholic Church in the author’s family.
- Jimmy’s parents elected not to claim Social Security Disability Income benefits for their son when he became eligible at age 21. They waited until he was in his early forties. They also kept him at home with them until age 43. What was the impact of these decisions? Would you have made the same decisions?
- Who or what have been the most significant influencers or influencing events in Joyce’s life? In Jimmy’s life?
- What might have become of the author had she stayed in her hometown?
- How has the author’s past prepared her for responsibility for her brother in their senior years?
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