I was given a copy of Lonely Girl Gracious God (A Mother’s Story of Autism’s Devastation and God’s Promise of Enduring Love) to read and review.
First off, I don’t have a special needs child and I know VERY little about autism. Beyond knowing Jenny McCarthy has an autistic son, I don’t know the autism community. So I feel like I have very little “say” or understanding in the autistic world.
After reading a short introduction, I had a flash of worry overcome me… reading about children with disabilities or diseases makes me uncomfortable. I guess my initial feelings were that sometimes not knowing the intimate details of what families like this go through might make me feel less worried about it happening to me or someone I know.
With that said, if you have an autistic child, you will probably relate to this book. The author is Lauri Khodabandehloo and she recalls and tells her story of mothering an autistic daughter. She works through her denial, then realization of her daughter’s disability. Then she talks about her journey of parenting a young-adult autistic daughter.
The story starts out in 1980 when she found out she was pregnant… I feel parenting styles and our society has gone through a lot of changes since then. In all honesty, I didn’t relate to her personal life (outside of being a parent) very much. For what it’s worth, her daughter and I are roughly the same age – so Lauri is old enough to be my mom. 😉 My parenting style is different than mommas MY age. You can imagine the differences between an entire generation.
I had a difficult time relating to Lauri. This doesn’t mean I didn’t like the book. As I studied art in college, I will always remember the moment my art history professor explained “art evokes a response.” This book definitely had me responding… and it had my thinking. So that’s a good thing!
She married young and had two daughters right away. While she explained her selfish pride flourished, she didn’t provide a specific, colorful story to explain her first marriage failure… she asked her husband for a divorce but always regretted it.
Seemingly fed up with being a single mom, she decided to marry a man she barely knew – not out of love but more out of convenience. She wanted her girls to have a father figure… which is an honorable idea, but there was also a HUGE cultural gap. With her husband being from Iran, I often found myself asking how on earth they stayed married. Different cultures, different religions, and from what she shared VERY different personalities.
I think I would have appreciated their relationship being mentioned in the book more if she would have brought up more loving qualities her husband had. It wasn’t until the very end of the book that she mentioned her husband’s loving nickname for their daughter. When I read that, I thought “how sweet – wish she would have included more on this side of him!”
When she gets pregnant with Farema (their autistic daughter), she was so scared of what her husband’s reaction would be, she did not tell him until MONTHS into the pregnancy. I’m am bewildered how she achieved this. I was sicker than a dog during my pregnancy and couldn’t hide my symptoms if I tried.
It made be sad that she felt God might have been punishing her and her husband for not wanting another child by giving them a special needs baby. You can NOT blame anyone for that – or earn or un-earn God’s grace. I believe devastation occurs so God’s glory can be seen through that trial… as hard as it is. I realize not all people feel the same, but when I read about her feeling guilty, I wanted to reach out to her and say “no, don’t feel that way!”
As far as getting to know Farema and Lauri, I think she did a good job recalling events over the past 30 years. Later in the book, she mentioned she kept a personal journal, which was a smart way to recall specific stories.
While I appreciated the intimate feelings Lauri shared in her book, I was left longing for a little more “eb & flow” of details. I went to school for Journalism, so my writing style reflects that. It took a lot of work for me to get past writing just “the facts” and start to share details to help my readers “be there” and relate to my stories after I graduated with that degree. I don’t know how she landed on her writing style, and it’s no offense to her, but my PREFERENCE for novels is that if it is worth mentioning: paint the picture for the reader using the five senses: see, hear, smell, touch, taste. It seemed like she was able to do a little more of this towards the very end of the story – maybe because these events occurred in recent years?
Again, Lauri did a great job of expressing her emotions – which I’m sure plenty of readers will relate to.
Secondarily, this book was pitched as a story of God’s promise of enduring love. Being a Christian, I think this is one of the reasons I was contacted to read this book and why it interested me.
Christianity is definitely about “the journey” and not about “arriving” – and I am not here to be judgmental of Lauri’s journey. However, the journey is traveled with a tool: The Bible – and she mentioned she “dusted it off” approximately 1/2 way through the book. There’s NOTHING wrong with that: all Christians go through “dry spells” of not being in God’s word, but I expected this aspect to be more prevalent in her story because of the title of the book.
Once she dusted off her Bible, I would have SO enjoyed an intimate recall with her first encounter in the Word, after not reading it for so long. 🙂
I enjoyed that she shared scripture in her book, but was bummed it wasn’t until the end of the story. While Lauri may have felt those passages help her throughout her life and the entire story, I didn’t feel she focused on it until the end of the book.
I hope this review didn’t tell too much of the story – I think it’s worth reading, even for an “outsider” like me. I bet the autism community will certainly relate to this story.
MY GIVEAWAY (US only)
Since I rarely read a book twice, I am giving away the copy that was provided to me.
#1 Mandatory Entry: comment below (anything goes, just be nice)
bonus entries: (make sure they are ALL separate comments, or your entry will only count for the single comment you leave)
#2 https://www.facebook.com/LifeAsALilly visit & “like” Life as a Lilly on Facebook
#3 follow Life as a Lilly on Google Friend Connect
#4 follow @HeatherLilly on Twitter http://twitter.com/HeatherLilly
#5 visit www.LonelyGirlGraciousGod.com and report back here with something you learned
#6 visit www.BringItOnCommunications.com and report back here with something you learned
#8 visit & “like” Tell Us The Truth reviews on Facebook www.facebook.com/pages/Tell-Us-The-Truth-Reviews/213538991990358
#10 sign up for their newsletter: http://bringitoncommunications.us2.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=8e8294b5ea321f04ce0ce154b&id=03b354c6db
Ends June 11th, 2011 at noon
Please leave a comment below & share with your friends. All comments await my moderation.Tweet