The author effectively shows how she learned lessons from raising Emma that allowed her to draw on a wellspring of love for other members of her family. . . . An engaging work about how the tenacity of a young girl changes her parents’ lives.”
“Rarely in life, in marriage, or in motherhood does a person have to make the choices made in the life of this author. And as she makes them, we go with her, deep into our own selves, traveling on her details to a journey to our own consciences, hearts, and minds. This is a powerful tale of family and of the kind of hard-fought courage that we always hope exists in this world. Beautifully written and wonderfully told, this is the book for right now.”
—MARION ROACH SMITH, author of The Memoir Project: A Thoroughly Non-Standardized Text for Writing & Life
“Emma’s Laugh traces the author’s moving, exhilarating, and devastating journey as a parent. Told with humor, humility, and grace, it is filled with deep sentiment but never falls into sentimentality. This moving family story had me at the edge of my seat, clutching a box of tissues, never wanting it to end.”
—MARIA KUZNETSOVA, author of Oksana Behave!
“Emma’s Laugh is an honest and beautiful look at parental love. From her early rejection of her special-needs child to her gradual falling in love with her daughter, Kupershmit shows us how much a mother is willing to give of herself for the sake of her child. I read with my heart in my throat all the way to the end.”
—MONICA WESOLOWSKA, author of Holding Silvan: A Brief Life
“Emma’s Laugh made me laugh, and cry, and smile, and cry again. Kupershmit delivers literary love with a capital L. This is what motherhood is. This is what love is. Just as Kupershmit climbs into a crib to ‘mold herself’ around her daughter when she suffers headaches and pain, I felt myself molding to this story, ever involved, rooting for mother and daughter and this family all the way.”
—ELIZABETH COHEN, author of The House on Beartown Road: A Memoir of Learning and Forgetting
“How important it is that Kupershmit has given us this gem of a book. It is a story of heartache and of reality—of despair, strength, and resilience. This book, in its tenderness and sensitivity, will offer you solace and companionship. I’m so glad it exists.”
—MIRA PTACIN, author of Poor Your Soul and The In-Betweens
“Diana Kupershmit has written a remarkably honest and unflinching account of her journey from rejection to acceptance raising a special-needs child. A heartbreaking and heartwarming tribute—and a testimony to one mother’s endless love for her extraordinary child.”
—HEATHER SIEGEL, author of The King and the Quirky
“Diana Kupershmit’s innate gift of storytelling and astute observations carefully invite the reader to bear witness to a heartbreaking journey toward acceptance. This gorgeous and honest memoir holds up the lens to motherhood and dares to address the profound grief that is capable of burying us or propelling us. Emma’s Laugh is a mother’s love letter to a remarkable child and a beautiful reminder to each of us that in life, the two most valuable things are time and laughter—everything else is simply details.”
—JESSICA CIENCIN HENRIQUEZ, author of If You Loved Me, You Would Know
“Diana Kupershmit writes an incredible story after being forged in the fire of her experience. Her story is urgent, necessary, and shows readers how to persevere with love, in every circumstance.”
—EMILY RAPP BLACK, New York Times best-selling author of The Still Point of the Turning World
“With a voice that is crisp and clear, Kupershmit shares the story of her daughter, Emma, and the earthshaking decisions that came with parenting such an exceptional girl. Faced with situations that most parents are spared, Kupershmit takes us into her darkest moments with tenderness and grace. What shines the brightest is the joy that is set free when we accept that instead of controlling outcomes perhaps our greatest responsibility is in surrendering to the possibility that our children come with their own plan for how they will live and what they will teach.”
—ASHLEIGH RENARD, author of Swing: A Memoir of Doing it All
Kupershmit writes an account of the myriad ways her life changed when her first daughter, Emma, was born with a rare genetic mutation. The author details her own background as the daughter of Ukrainian immigrants, as well as the circumstances leading up to Emma's birth, and the many moments of clarity and re-framing of her own expectations about parenting and family life that came along with raising a child with a disability. Kupershmit is honest about her own disappointments and moments she interprets as personal weaknesses. Her writing shines when recounting Emma's relationship with her siblings, and when discussing the difficult work of deciding who will care for Emma in the long-term and whether to place her siblings in a caregiving role. Kupershmit also delves into some jarring, perhaps questionable details, like her deciding to place the infant Emma for adoption, a decision she reversed after a few months. VERDICT Overall, Kupershmit has managed to produce a noticeably well-written and eloquent narrative of motherhood, and a beautiful tribute to her daughter. Recommended for readers interested memoirs about the variety of human experiences within the United States.—Allison Gallaspy, Tulane University, LA
Kupershmit’s memoir explores her relationship to her elder daughter.
Shortly after her first daughter, Emma, was born, the author realized that something was unusual about her: “she opened her eyes, her gaze the glassy surface of a lake. It beckoned me to embrace and protect her, but it frightened me also.” Doctors conducted genetic testing and soon discerned that Emma had “a chromosomal anomaly.” As one physician told Kupershmit and her husband, Tolya, “we can assume that she will live with moderate to profound retardation.” The new parents were devastated, and after they left the hospital without their baby girl, who was being closely monitored, they wrestled with a huge decision: Could they properly and adequately raise a child who would demand a tremendous amount of care and attention? Distraught, they agreed that they couldn’t. After finding an adoptive family for Emma, they attempted to return to normalcy, but Kupershmit soon discovered that Tolya had been going to visit their daughter. The couple realized that they couldn’t live without her, after all. Soon, Emma was home again, and they adjusted to her needs; eventually, they had two more children, as well. Kupershmit’s prose is straightforward in style, and she tells her story chronologically with occasional backstory about her childhood in Soviet Ukraine, moving to the United States at 8, and starting to date Tolya when she was 16. But as her relationship deepens with Emma, so, too, does the writing become more tender: “Emma was the fulcrum upon which I teetered,” she writes toward the end of the memoir. “I saw then that Emma was teaching me how to be in this world, how to navigate through life. She was intrepid, she feared no one.” The author effectively shows how she learned lessons from raising Emma that allowed her to draw on a wellspring of love for other members of her family. She also relates how Emma’s health complications resulted in difficult challenges and hardships over the years.
An engaging work about how the tenacity of a young girl changes her parents’ lives.