The Shape of the Eye: A Memoir

( 3 )

Overview

"[An] elegantly written, unsentimental memoir."—PEOPLE MAGAZINE [PEOPLE's Pick of the Week]

When Laura Estreich is born, her appearance presents a puzzle: does the shape of her eyes indicate Down syndrome, or the fact that she has a Japanese grandmother? In this powerful memoir, George Estreich, a poet and stay-at-home dad, tells his daughter's story, reflecting on her inheritance —- from the literal legacy of her genes, to the family history that precedes her, to the Victorian ...

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The Shape of the Eye: A Memoir

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Overview

"[An] elegantly written, unsentimental memoir."—PEOPLE MAGAZINE [PEOPLE's Pick of the Week]

When Laura Estreich is born, her appearance presents a puzzle: does the shape of her eyes indicate Down syndrome, or the fact that she has a Japanese grandmother? In this powerful memoir, George Estreich, a poet and stay-at-home dad, tells his daughter's story, reflecting on her inheritance —- from the literal legacy of her genes, to the family history that precedes her, to the Victorian physician John Langdon Down's diagnostic error of "Mongolian idiocy." Against this backdrop, Laura takes her place in the Estreich family as a unique child, quirky and real, loved for everything ordinary and extraordinary about her.

"In this wise and moving memoir, George Estreich tells the story of his family as his younger daughter is diagnosed with Down syndrome and they are thrust into an unfamiliar world. Estreich writes with a poet's eye and gift of language, weaving this personal journey into the larger history of his family, exploring the deep and often hidden connections between the past and the present. Engaging and unsentimental, The Shape of the Eye taught me a great deal. It is a story I found myself thinking about long after I'd finished the final pages." —Kim Edwards, author of The Memory Keeper's Daughter

"A poignant, beautifully written, and intensely moving memoir" —Abraham Verghese, author of Cutting for Stone

“The Shape of the Eye is a memoir of a father’s love for his daughter, his struggle to understand her disability, and his journey toward embracing her power and depth.  Estreich is raw and honest and draws us each into a new view of what it means to be 'human’ and what it means to be ‘different.’  This book is beautifully written, poetically insightful, and personally transformative. To read it is to rethink everything and to be happy because of the journey.” —Timothy P. Shriver, Ph.D., Chairman & CEO of the Special Olympics

"The Shape of the Eye personalizes Down syndrome, bringing a condition abstracted in the medical literature into the full dimensionality of one family's life. It's brave of George Estreich to make what has befallen his family so public, trusting of him to let an unknown audience second-guess the family's choices. Because he's opened his home and heart in this memoir, we are privileged to witness in chaotic, heart-wrenching, joyous detail what it means to have and to love a child with Down syndrome." —Marcia Childress, Associate Professor of Medical Education (Medical Humanities), University of Virginia School of Medicine

 

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
The moving, heartbreakingly lucid story about how a family learned to cope with, and ultimately appreciate, a daughter born with Down syndrome. Friends had told poet Estreich (Textbook Illustrations of the Human Body, 2004) and his scientist wife that a "second child changes everything." Neither, however, was prepared for the news that the baby girl they would name Laura had Trisomy 21, Down syndrome. Both were devastated; but for the author, the diagnosis had even more profound implications. John Langdon Down, the Victorian-era physician after whom Laura's condition was named, had called it the "‘Mongolian idiocy." "Twisted, weird, and wrong" as this label was, it named not only Laura's diagnosis, but also the half-Japanese Estreich's own ethnic identity. "To have a child, any child, is to thrust ordinary mysteries into the foreground: mortality, love, inheritance." As he and his wife struggled to come to terms with their daughter's condition and the future it portended, Laura suffered heart failure and had to be force-fed through nasal tubes. Yet the little girl survived. Soon, the visits to doctors, cardiologists, nutritionists and speech pathologists and other accommodations the family made for Laura began to feel normal. What struck Estreich as bizarre was the negativity, both intended and unwitting, that pervaded the accounts he read about Down syndrome. Laura was a child first and not a diagnosis. And the fate written into the 47 chromosomes of her DNA was no more tragic than that of other children who carried their own genetic risks hidden within supposedly "normal" bodies. With the humility born of painful experience, Estreich concludes that "it is not the chromosome, but our response to it, that shapes the contour of a life." A poignantly eloquent meditation on the genetics of belonging.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780399163340
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 4/18/2013
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 433,538
  • Product dimensions: 5.62 (w) x 8.14 (h) x 0.91 (d)

Meet the Author

George Estreich's collection of poems, Textbook Illustrations of the Human Body, won the Gorsline Prize and was published in 2004. A woodworker, fly-fisherman, and guitar player, he has taught composition, creative writing, and literature at several universities. He lives in Cornvallis, Oregon, with his wife Theresa, a research scientist, and his two daughters, Ellie and Laura.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 3 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(2)

4 Star

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(1)

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 23, 2013

    Highly recommended

    This is a memoir br a man regarding the struggles of raising a child who has Down Syndrome. It was well-written and researched.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 25, 2013

    Made an error in rating. I am half way through the book, and at

    Made an error in rating. I am half way through the book, and at this point I would rate it a 3. I was
    going to
    send the book to
    my daughter who has a Down Syndrome child. I have changed my mind

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2013

    Wpw Wow so wonderful

    Such a personal view with amazing writing





    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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