The Boy Who Loved Tornadoes

The Boy Who Loved Tornadoes

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by Randi Davenport
     
 

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Randi Davenport’s story is a testament to human fortitude, to hope, and to a mother’s uncompromising love for her children. 

She had always worked hard to provide her family with a sense of stability and strength, despite the challenges of having a son with autism and a husband whose erratic behavior sometimes puzzled and confused… See more details below

Overview

Randi Davenport’s story is a testament to human fortitude, to hope, and to a mother’s uncompromising love for her children. 

She had always worked hard to provide her family with a sense of stability and strength, despite the challenges of having a son with autism and a husband whose erratic behavior sometimes puzzled and confused her.

But eventually, Randi’s husband slipped into his own world and permanently out of her family’s. And at fifteen, her son Chase entered an unremitting psychosis—pursued by terrifying images, unable to recognize his own mother, unwilling to eat or even talk—becoming ever more tortured and unreachable.

Beautifully written and profoundly moving, this is the heartbreaking yet triumphant story of how Randi Davenport navigated the byzantine and broken health care system and managed not just to save her son from the brink of suicide but to bring him back to her again, and make her family whole.  In The Boy Who Loved Tornadoes, she gives voice to the experiences of countless families whose struggles with mental illness are likewise invisible to the larger world.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
An academic and writer at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, offers a dense, achingly inconclusive tale about her developmentally challenged son, whose difficulties remain elusively untreatable and largely undiagnosed. Davenport writes poignantly about her increasing sense of helplessness over the years as her son, Chase, moving into his teens, grows harder and harder to manage, from his inability to focus and sit still, to his paranoia and obsession with morbid thoughts, his seizures, to his eruptive agitation and truculence that eventually warranted long-term hospitalization. What was wrong with him? Davenport lists the dozens of doctors’ suggestions over the years, from autism and severe ADHD to seizure disorder, psychosis, and schizophrenia. Yet, stubbornly, Chase’s diagnosis remains unnamable, and a plethora of drugs often fail him, such as Clozaril, which checked his psychosis but left him vegetative. Chase’s indefinable state proves problematic for insurance providers, who cut off his hospital coverage though no long-term care facility will take him. As a result, Chase has to spend a frightening stint at the state mental hospital. Davenport’s memoir is intensely thorough and affecting. (Mar.)
Kirkus Reviews
The chronicle of a mother's increasingly desperate fight to preserve her son's sanity. Only a year after his difficult birth, Chase was diagnosed with global developmental delay. Davenport, the executive director of the University of North Carolina's center for undergraduate excellence, writes movingly of her search for a diagnosis and cure. Newly married to an up-and-coming local rock star and struggling to become a novelist, her life had seemed happily on track. But following the diagnosis of global developmental delay, Chase was also diagnosed with severe ADHD and eventually autism. Two years later, he had his first grand mal seizure. Davenport's marriage ended when her husband, whose rock band had dissolved, began to drink heavily and physically abuse Chase. (Years later she realized that even before this, her husband had showed signs of "the fluttering wing of paranoia.") By age 15, Chase was in the grips of severe paranoia, convinced that he was being stalked by nailers, men who "nail you to the chair and kill you." Even though he was highly medicated for epilepsy and psychosis, he was losing his fragile contact with reality and becoming so difficult to manage-he often threatened suicide-that he was hospitalized in a short-term residential-treatment facility. With the increasing doses of anti-psychotics, his condition continued to deteriorate. When he became violent and no longer recognized Davenport, she was informed that his prognosis was poor, and she needed to transfer him. After a harrowing search-and denial of further insurance coverage-she was forced to place him in a state mental hospital where he was drugged to the point of stupor. Finally, Chase was admitted to a smallfacility for young men with serious developmental disabilities; he slowly tapered off drugs and his condition steadily improved. Still, the author clearly understands that the battle is far from over. "I stopped seeing Chase as a child I just had to get back on track and saw him as he was," she writes, "tall and painfully thin and unable to care for himself, unable to communicate, beset with the unseen, the unknown, the unnamable, but arrived into himself completely, as if all of this had been hardwired, preordained from the start."A gripping memoir of motherly love and absolute devotion. Agent: Julie Barer/Barer Literary
Elle Magazine
"An unforgettable memoir of a shattered family, a mother's abiding love, and the frightening permutations of the human mind." --Elle
Boston Globe
"This is her gripping account of that unrelenting battle. It isn't a medical thriller that climaxes with an 11th-hour cure. The light of its happy ending burns low, but in this courageous mother's eyes it shines as bright as the sun." —Boston Globe
From the Publisher

"An unforgettable memoir of a shattered family, a mother's abiding love, and the frightening permutations of the human mind." --Elle

"A gripping memoir of motherly love and absolute devotion." --Kirkus

"This is her gripping account of that unrelenting battle. It isn't a medical thriller that climaxes with an 11th-hour cure. The light of its happy ending burns low, but in this courageous mother's eyes it shines as bright as the sun." --Boston Globe

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781616200039
Publisher:
Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
Publication date:
03/30/2010
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
384
Sales rank:
1,262,208
File size:
2 MB

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"A heartbreaking, disturbing, and truly courageous story of one mother’s fight to save her son." —Alice Hoffman, author of The Story Sisters

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