That Went Well: Adventures in Caring for My Sister [NOOK Book]


Meet Terrell Dougan's sister, Irene: a woman in her sixties who still believes in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny--but who also enjoys playing those characters for the children at the local hospital; whose favorite outfit, which she'll sneak into whenever Terrell's back is turned, consists of Mickey Mouse kneesocks and shorts; who wins over the neighborhood kids by hosting two fire trucks at her lemonade stand; whose fridge bears a magnet: ...
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That Went Well: Adventures in Caring for My Sister

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Meet Terrell Dougan's sister, Irene: a woman in her sixties who still believes in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny--but who also enjoys playing those characters for the children at the local hospital; whose favorite outfit, which she'll sneak into whenever Terrell's back is turned, consists of Mickey Mouse kneesocks and shorts; who wins over the neighborhood kids by hosting two fire trucks at her lemonade stand; whose fridge bears a magnet: NORMAL PEOPLE WORRY ME.

When Irene was born, her parents were advised to institutionalize her. They refused and instead became trailblazers in advocating for the rights of people with mental disabilities. The entire family benefited, with a life rich in stress, sorrows, hilarity, joy, and overwhelming kindness from strangers. Terrell has found that the only way to get through the difficult moments is to laugh--even in the most trying of times. In her moving, funny, and unforgettable memoir about life with Irene, Terrell Dougan shows that love, humor, and compassion are enough to heal us, every single day.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

In this compassionate memoir, Dougan, humor columnist for 13 years penning "Of All Things" for the Deseret News in Utah, writes for the first time about her mentally disabled sister, Irene. After Irene was born in 1946, their parents decided that she would not be institutionalized; with no Salt Lake City support group available, the girls' father, who ran an ad agency, teamed with other parents to launch a local day care center in 1952. Dougan made that a family tradition, opening a workshop for teens and adults with mental disabilities in 1968 and serving eight years as president of the Utah Association for Retarded Citizens. To tell Irene's story, she begins with a traumatizing childhood event; when she was 12 and Irene was six, they witnessed Irene's babysitter die from a massive brain hemorrhage. The lives of the sisters intertwined: Terrell became obsessed with swimming and ice skating; Irene learned to swim and ice skate, but not to read and write. Terrell studied at Stanford and later got married and had children; Irene was sent away at age 20 to a residential school in the hope she would learn "some independence." Influenced by Benchley and Thurber, Terrell is a skilled humorist with amusing anecdotes about Irene, such as her behavior during the family's Venice vacation. Writing with honesty, she is equally impressive in relating the haunting memories of sadness and despair surrounding Irene's darker days. (Jan.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

Ostensibly, this book would focus on how the author fared growing up with a mentally retarded sister in mid-20th-century America, a time when institutionalization was the norm. Yet first-time writer Dougan makes only erratic references to Irene, who instead was kept in the care of her loving family in Salt Lake City. While Dougan's life is interesting, she hits her stride only with a combination of anecdotes about her sister and what it was like to mature and care for her in adulthood. Still, siblings of the developmentally disabled will appreciate the enormous challenges and rewards Dougan communicates. [Hyperion has made this its winter 2009 Publisher's Pick, so expect media coverage.]

Kirkus Reviews
Memoir of the author's enduring devotion for her special-needs sister oscillates from heartbreaking to uplifting with the flip of a page. Born during a relentless Utah electrical storm in 1946, Irene would spend hours in her crib, silently staring at her hands, and didn't take a step until she was almost two years old. She was more than simply "slow," but the devoutly Mormon Harris family wallowed in denial about their impaired, cross-eyed daughter until her first day in kindergarten, when a teacher immediately said she needed to be tested. Irene was classified as "mentally disabled," with an IQ of 57, but her parents refused to place her in the grim state institution. They kept Irene at home, where her violent tantrums and confusion became commonplace. Six years older than her sister, the author responded with "protective anger" whenever anyone asked what was wrong with Irene. Her teenaged years were tricky, as she attempted to date boys and corral her sister's erratic behavior. Caring for Irene became increasingly cumbersome as her mother's arthritis worsened and doting grandma "Bammy" aged, so at age 20 she was placed in a special California school, where she spent six years before being expelled for violent behavior. The author, by then married with two young daughters, began writing a column in the local newspaper and became an advocate for the integration of special-needs children into public schools. She tirelessly shouldered the responsibility for both Irene and her severely disabled mother, spending years teaching her sister everything from how to manage her diabetes and high blood pressure to finding employment. Dougan gets very personal in the final sections, exposing the nerveand dedication necessary to foster independence in a sibling with special needs. A touching, surprisingly funny tough-love narrative.
Judith Viorst
"Enormously touching, funny, wise, breathtakingly honest, and compellingly readable."
Rachel Simon
"Terrell Dougan writes with humor, humanity, and complete honesty. In this tale of two sisters - one who never gives up her dolls, one who never loses her pluck - she takes readers on a thought-provoking, endearing journey through life. Along the way, she shows readers the changing social attitudes of the last half century, and her personal odyssey from resistance to acceptance."
Kim Peek
"Irene is a very special lady who makes others feel better about lots of things. Her sister Terrell shares her shadow, just like my dad shares mine."
Andrew Bridge
"With heartache and humor, tenderness and honesty . . . Dougan inspires us to remember the kindness, joy, and grace that forever remain life's possibility."
Muffy Mead-Ferro
"Funny, and wonderful, and horrible, and happy and sad."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781401395780
  • Publisher: Hyperion
  • Publication date: 1/6/2009
  • Sold by: Hachette Digital, Inc.
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 798,476
  • File size: 385 KB

Meet the Author

Terrell Harris Dougan's weekly humor column ran in the Deseret News for thirteen years, and won an award from the National Federation of Press Women for best humor column. As an actress and model, Dougan has been in hundreds of TV commercials and voiceovers. She also served on the founding Board of the Sundance Film Festival. She served as President of the Utah Association for Retarded Citizens for eight years, and on the Board of National Association for Retarded Citizens for two terms. She lives with her husband in Salt Lake City, Utah.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 3 of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 18, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Terrell uses the book to write about her trials with her mentall

    Terrell uses the book to write about her trials with her mentally handicapped older sister.  Terrell tries very hard to treat her sister, Irene, as everyone else but every time she tries Irene show that she is not.  That Went Well is a book that talks about the negative and positive of taking care of a handicap family member.  

    I liked that the family kept a good sense of humor throughout tough times.  I also think compared to other memoirs with handicapped family member  this one didn’t fluff the book up with with everyone always happy or perfectly handled. 

    On another hand I felt there should have been more about the handicapped sister, Irene.
    A lot of the stories told in That Went Well is about Terrell trying to get her sister to like and do adult things.

    I read this book because someone recommended and gave me the book.  It is a good read and there are frustrating moments and humorous moments.  I recommend it for anyone who has a handicapped member in their family or those that know families as well.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 2, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2010

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 3 of 2 Customer Reviews

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