The Gift of Reading

I received an early Christmas gift with the judge’s reviews of my books that were entered in the Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards Contest.

Jimmy and Me, A Sister’s Memoir

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.

Musing Off the Mat – memories and everyday moments

The author shares her life—her family, her hobbies, her positive world view—through a series of essays. The essays are uniquely the author’s, but themes of home, food, and family make it easy to relate to and feel connected with the author. The author’s voice is clear and brimming with personality, humor, and compassion. Not only does the author invite others into her life, but she also invites her audience to look at their own lives differently, with fresh eyes. The stories demonstrate a keen eye for detail and emotion, without being bogged down with description or sentimentality. The varying lengths of the pieces makes it easy to dive in and out of the book and hop around to different topics. The loose thematic organization gives the book just enough structure to hold it together without bogging it down. While the essays are focused on the author and her experiences, they also demonstrate a strong empathy for and attention to other people. The cover image aptly captures the tone and content of the book, and it has a very personal feel without making the book seem unprofessional or like a scrapbook.

Buy the books for your Secret Santa, Yankee Swap, or use as stocking stuffers. Because “every family has a story.”

Donate By Reading

“Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”    – Eunice Shriver

Today marks the 50th anniversary of Special Olympics. In recognition of this milestone, proceeds from the sale of Jimmy and Me, A Sister’s Memoir (July 17-21) will be donated to this magnificent organization.

Purchase your book here and be part of the #inclusion revolution. 

 

An Indomitable Woman

If you want to read about a relentless woman who was ahead of her time, read Eunice, The Kennedy Who Changed the World by Pulitzer-prize winner Eileen McNamara.

I remember my mother telling me that she credited Mrs. Shriver for single-handedly changing the world for people like my brother. This is mentioned in my book, Jimmy and Me, A Sister’s Memoir

Like many people, I knew that Eunice created Special Olympics but I did not know she was a tireless advocate for incarcerated women, pregnant teens, juvenile delinquents, and other citizens who were marginalized decades ago.

Most notably, you’ll read about her inexhaustible drive to bring individuals with intellectual disabilities out from the shadows of society. She lobbied her brother, President John F. Kennedy, for legislation to support these special citizens. Less than a month before his assassination in 1963, he signed the Maternal and Child Health and Mental Retardation Planning Amendment to the Social Security Act, which would grant $265 million in federal aid.

In the four decades after the death of JFK, Eunice would successfully lobby countless members of Congress and business executives to finance educational, vocational, and recreational programs for individuals with intellectual disabilities. She simply would not take no for an answer.

The biography details Eunice’s early life at a convent school, college years at Stanford, her work at the State Department, and copious travels abroad. It describes the relationships with her parents, siblings, husband, and children, and her devotion to the Catholic faith (she considered becoming a nun).

Eunice was a force of nature. I admire her even more after reading this book.

End the R-word

Spread the word to end the word. Today is the national day to show respect to individuals with special needs.

When I was a child, I heard the derogatory and insulting word “retarded” too often. It was directed to my brother (and to me as “the retard’s sister”) on the playground, in school corridors, and in other public places.

Decades later, I heard it with derisive laughter from “professional” adults in business settings. To this day, it still pains me to hear such hurtful language.

I pledge #Respect through my words & actions. Will you? Pledge now to create communities of inclusion for people with intellectual disabilities. r-word.org

Remember: the only “R” word for citizens with intellectual and developmental disabilities is RESPECT.