A child can simultaneously break your heart and set it free. Such is the case with Jennifer Walker, born with the rare Rubinstein-Taybi syndrome, which severely challenges her mental and physical capabilities, even as it piques her mother’s dread of the unknown. Jennifer’s is a disorder that most doctors have never encountered, one that informs the story of Every Least Sparrow.
On the night of her birth, the Walkers’ pediatrician lays out a new reality that will upend their household. He speaks of deformities that make no sense: spatula thumbs, cathedral palate, webbed neck, beak nose, a bird face.
Confused and frightened, baby in hand, determined to find healing and understanding, Jennifer’s mother, a journalist writing about life in their small midwestern town, embarks on a quest that takes them from doctor to doctor, hospital to hospital, and state to state.
It’s a quest filled with surgeries, therapies, and educational interventions, mitigated by Jennifer’s love of music and her fun, curious obsession with the Titanic – one that forces her mother to examine her own prejudices. Her combined private and professional lives impact Jennifer’s mother in a profound way, creating for her a new understanding of what it means to be wife, mother, and human being.
Filled with natural self-esteem, Jennifer never realizes she is different from others. Instead, she becomes their teacher, proving that disability is but a notion. Spirited and impish, brave and loving, she takes her obstacles in stride, and throws herself into the excitement of life – friendships, romance, employment.
Those who know her eventually come to think of Jennifer, in her lack of prejudice and guile, as someone to be envied. Jennifer proves to all in the most affecting way that it’s possible to surmount seemingly impossible hurdles, live fully, and love unconditionally.
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.48(d)|
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Looking back, Carolyn Walker writes that it was good that she and her husband didn’t know what to expect from Rubinstein-Taybi syndrome when their daughter Jennifer was finally diagnosed after her first birthday. They believed she would be “delayed,” and they nurtured her as such. Soon, it became apparent that she would be far from normal. What I found most profound was the family’s realization that Jennifer’s life might be something to envy rather than pity when they saw the wholesomeness with which she saw the world around her, and how she unabashedly embraced it: “Another person’s color, nationality, religion, sexuality, age, gender or station in life, was of no consequence to her...and there was no fraction of time that didn’t contain some measure of joy.” Every Least Sparrow has, among moments of trepidation and anguish, incredible moments of exuberance and brilliance. It’s an account of love and amazement. It reminds me that, as parents, we wish the best for our children, and hope they will grow to be wise and loving adults, but their existence and purpose in life is all their own, and the way they view the world is independent from us. The most we can do is nurture and love them with all our hearts, and then let them fly.
Reviewed by K.J. Simmill for Readers' Favorite Every Least Sparrow is a tale of parenthood. Carolyn Walker had two previous pregnancies prior to the birth of Jennifer. None of them had gone smoothly; the first resulted in the death of her son, born prematurely with underdeveloped lungs, and from the second came her daughter Holly, also premature, but healthy. So carrying this baby to term had been a joy in itself. There had been no indication of problems, but after the birth the doctor delivered the news - the baby had 'a syndrome.' That is the moment which changes the image of the future. A parent's picture perfect dream of the life and future they carry alters with just those simple words. The change could be something small, or life altering, but before you can plan for this new future you first need an understanding. Every Least Sparrow follows the author's journey into this difficult, yet infinitely rewarding passage into a special kind of parenting. As the mother of a child with GDD and genetic complications affecting not only their health, but their ability to learn, I felt this book and I would be a good match. I can easily relate to many of the experiences in this book. Whilst my child does not have the syndrome discussed in Every Least Sparrow, there are many parallels to the difficulties and rewards, so I understood this work on a level only a mother in a similar situation can. I'll be totally honest; it was hard for me to read, stirring so many of my own emotions as I read about the trials and tribulations faced by this family. I appreciated it being written as a narrative tale, rather than simply a list or impersonal view. This allows the reader to connect on a very personal level as the author bares their soul completely, sharing their immense joy and darkest moments of fear. Being a mother to any child is demanding, more so when they need that extra care and security. A book like this reminds parents they aren't alone and, by revealing some of her darker moments, Carolyn Walker gives comfort to other parents who might feel they have failed for showing such weakness. A heartwarming, worthwhile, and genuine read for anyone, giving insight into things most people would not even consider.
Reviewed by Arya Fomonyuy for Readers' Favorite There is no better emotion, nothing as wonderful as hearing the first cry of one’s first baby. Carolyn Walker captures the first emotional moment of her birthing experience by vividly describing an encounter with Dr. O’Neill: “Dr. O'Neill's hug betrayed his uncertainty, but because I felt sorry that he had been made this unfortunate messenger, I met his compassion with a measure of my own. I hugged him back, and I let him escape with his lie.” Carolyn Walker was eager to see her first baby. But it seemed the hospital professionals didn't want to show her to the mother, but why? She was to learn the reason not long after this encounter. She’d brought forth a “rarity" into life, a girl with a rare kind of syndrome: the Rubinstein-Taybi syndrome. Every Least Sparrow by Carolyn Walker captures her journey with her daughter as the latter struggles with a condition that challenged both her mental and physical abilities. Can she really fit in? Can she have a life like other normal kids? Every Least Sparrow is an incredible memoir stuffed with wonderful lessons about love and family, finding meaning in being there for the ones we love, but most importantly, it explores the incredible miracle that is the human being. One cannot read this story, journey with Carolyn as she moves from hospital to hospital seeking answers, and remain the same. It is wonderful to see how love can transform a handicap into a gift — a blessing. Carolyn Walker’s memoir takes readers into the secret life of her daughter and explores the joys and perils of a mother. Told in a very light and humorous tone, this book will educate, inform, entertain, inspire, and provoke a silent revolution in readers. If there is a memoir you’d love to read about living with people with handicaps, this is the one. It will warm your heart, pull you out of your shell, and challenge you to look at life and to face life differently. There is a beautiful humanity captured in these pages, a humanity that will speak eloquently to the hearts of readers. It’s the kind of blessing to savor, and then pass on!
Reviewed by Divine Zape for Readers' Favorite Every Least Sparrow by Carolyn Walker is a memoir that every mother should read. As a mother, I have always believed that every child is special, that is, every child comes with a blessing and a curse, and that the curse is the part of the child that brings out the motherhood in us. This memoir has taught me many lessons. Carolyn Walker finds out that her new-born baby girl has a rare syndrome, the Rubinstein-Taybi syndrome — and I am, like the mother, learning about it only in this book — a condition that affects her mental and physical abilities negatively, or so everyone thinks. One could imagine her anxiety, the worry that suddenly takes hold of her heart. This book chronicles her journey with her daughter and her desperate search for a cure. It is wonderful to read how she meets with professionals, travels from one part of the country to another, searching for what is buried inside her heart. She discovered patient love as she needed to find the best time to engage with her daughter, accompany her as she learned skills late, like using the toilet. What this journey did to Jennifer is as wonderful as the transformation happening in the heart of her mother. Carolyn Walker’s memoir is really heartwarming and there is no better way of describing her journey than using the term “awakening.” Her experience of living with her daughter and tending to her family has provoked a spiritual growth in her. Readers will love Jennifer and watching her as she evolves in the story. Every Least Sparrow had a lot to teach me and one of the wonderful lessons that caught my attention is this: No matter the depth of our pain, of our frustration and worry, it becomes less when we allow love to take hold of our heart. Jennifer found solace and a wonderful place to grow in the love of her parents. One can’t read this memoir without giggling happily at times, feeling tears run down their face, or occasionally being seized by a wave of powerful emotions. It was such an inspiration. A beautiful story simply told and a powerful message of love and hope, with lessons for everyone.