Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Day 4: My Favorite Book

I'm not much of a read for fun type of girl.  I would go to the bookstore as soon as I got my summer reading list from school and tell the clerk that I wanted the books that had the least number of pages and the biggest print.  I could care less about the subject.  I just wanted to get through the summer reading as quickly as I could.  People laugh at me when I tell them I want to go to law school and that my undergraduate major consisted of a ton of reading.  For some reason, I don't mind doing that, but picking up a book for fun is just not my cup of tea.

If I recommend a book, it must be good because I would have never made it through it, if I was bored for even a second while reading it.  My favorite book lately is A Good and Perfect Gift by Amy Julia Becker.  It might help that the author is a close friend of mine, but I honestly think I would recommend this book even if I had no connection to the amazing woman who wrote it. 

Cuddled up in my bed, I tore through this book cover to cover in just one day.

You may pick up this book, realize that it is a story of a family raising a child with Down Syndrome, think that is not relevant to you and your life and put it back down. Yes, it is indeed a memoir about the surprise and challenges a first time mother felt when she learned two hours after her daughter's birth that Penny had Down Syndrome. Amy Julia had always placed high value on education and intellectual ability so this news brought dark days filled with sadness, fear, disappointment and shock that Penny may not live up to the dreams imagined for her while she was in the womb. Not only did the Beckers have to adjust to life with a newborn baby, Penny's Down Syndrome diagnosis ushered in a storm of questions and (perhaps) a dramatic adjustment in the life they had envisioned for their eldest child. More importantly, Penny forced an adjustment in the definition of perfection. Amy Julia candidly recalls her initial disappointment in the diagnosis and takes readers on the emotional and intellectual journey associated with the first two years of Penny's life. She asks uncomfortable questions. "Will I be able to be proud of her? Will I be able to love her?" (page 25) At first, she is not so sure. But as the book goes on, Becker leads the reader to see that these questions are not just those a parent of a child with a disability asks. She examines her own assumptions of "perfection" and challenges the readers to do the same.

Now you say, "Well, Jess, that's great, but this book seems even more irrelevant to me because I am not a parent"

Neither am I, but as a person with a disability I loved this book and want everyone to read it. This book beautifully articulates the struggles many people with disabilities feel. Fully able people often think the biggest challenges a disabled person face are physical or intellectual, depending on the nature of the disability. The truth is the physical (or intellectual) challenges are not high on our worry list. If we don't know how to do something, we will either try to do it a different way or don't know what we are missing anyway so it doesn't really matter. I would argue the greatest obstacle a disabled person faces is getting the world to see them as they see themselves: as a person with a disability rather than a disabled person. 

In A Good and Perfect Gift, Becker takes the readers on her personal journey from seeing her daughter as a disabled person to a person with a disability.
“Can she live a full life without ever solving a quadratic equation?  Without reading Dostoevsky?  I’m pretty sure she can.  Can I live a full life without learning to cherish and welcome those in this world who are different from me?  I’m pretty sure I can’t.” (pg 123) 

If you are a book worm and enjoy well written books, this is for you. If you are looking for an engaging story, pick this up when you have time because you won't be able to put it down. But, if you are interested in growing as a person, do me a favor and read this book. You will be changed -- for the better.

Hopefully, now I have intrigued you and you want to know more about this read. If so, go here. You will find many reviews and may I point out that Becker's book was selected as one of the best of 2011 by Publisher's Weekly!  Now that you're sold, go get it here!    

It's a good and perfect book -- and my favorite!


  1. I will check it out. It sounds like just the bit of encouragement I need right now actually! As I was helping my son with his shoelaces, I had a thought pass through my mind, "He's 14. He should be doing this for himself!!" It was tightening up his shoelaces and double knotting them properly. As quickly as the thought came another one followed which was that his age is just a number. HE is Leif and HE is doing exactly what HE is capable of and for HIM it is totally "normal". I happily fixed his other shoe and got a hug of thanks from him. Thanks for the recommendation :)

  2. Even if you don't have a child or don't know someone with Down Syndrome, I think the book will be an interesting read for everyone. Books that touch on the everyday lives of others living under special circumstances allow readers to gain a better outlook on the different realities that people face. Thanks for sharing, Jess!


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