Love You to Pieces: Creative Writers on Raising a Child with Special Needs

Love You to Pieces: Creative Writers on Raising a Child with Special Needs

by Suzanne Kamata (Editor)

Paperback(New Edition)

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The first collection of literary writing on raising a child with special needs, Love You to Pieces features families coping with autism, deafness, muscular dystrophy, Down syndrome and more. Here, poets, memoirists, and fiction writers paint beautiful, wrenchingly honest portraits of caring for their children, laying bare the moments of rage, disappointment, and guilt that can color their relationships. Parent-child communication can be a challenge at the best of times, but in this collection we witness the struggles and triumphs of those who speak their own language-or don't speak at all-and those who love them deeply.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780807000304
Publisher: Beacon Press
Publication date: 05/14/2008
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 272
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Suzanne Kamata is fiction editor at the online magazine Literary Mama. Her essays, stories, and articles on parenting a disabled child - her daughter is deaf and has cerebral palsy—have appeared or will appear in Utne Reader; Brain, Child; Literary Mama: Reading for the Maternally Inclined; It's a Girl: Women Writers on Raising Daughters; and an anthology on new family configurations to be published by Riverhead in 2007. Her anthology The Broken Bridge: Fiction from Expatriates in Literary Japan was nominated for the Kiriyama Prize. Her work has been nominated five times for the Pushcart Prize, and her essay "The Sound and the Worry" was given a special mention in the latest Pushcart Prize anthology.

Table of Contents

Introduction   Suzanne Kamata     ix
Coming to Samsara$dmemoir by Vicki Forman     1
Without Strings$dfiction by Hannah Holborn     9
SMA Baby$dpoem by Ellen Bihler     15
A Homecoming$dfiction by Marcy Sheiner     17
"Severe Language Delay": In the Kitchen with My Three-Year-Old$dpoem by Rebecca Balcarcel     26
Magic Affinities$dfiction by Evelyn Sharenov     28
Little Locomotive$dpoem by Gina Forberg     49
Normal$dmemoir by Marie Myung-Ok Lee     50
Form and Void$dpoem by Barbara Crooker     58
Doing Jigsaw Puzzles$dpoem by Barbara Crooker     60
The Lives of the Saints$dfiction by Catherine Brady     62
Living with Lilia   memoir by Suzanne Kamata     80
Termite's Birthday, 1959$dfiction by Jayne Anne Phillips     88
Petit Mal$dpoem by Michele Battiste     105
Great Expectations$dmemoir by Michael Berube     107
From Spells and Auguries$dpoem by John Morgan     121
Speaking of Love/Reading My Son$dmemoir by Clare Dunsford     125
Ordinary Time$dfiction by Carol Zapata-Whelan     136
Moonrise$dmemoir by Penny Wolfson     150
A Question of Leaves$dpoem by Carol Schmidt     177
From Jewel$dfiction by Bret Lott     179
Doctor in the House$dmemoir by Darshan Perusek     189
Victoria's Wedding$dpoem by Margaret Mantle     194
Rachel at Work: Enclosed, a Mother's Report$dmemoir by Jane Bernstein     196
What about Meg?$dfiction by Curtis Smith     217
Joyful Noise$dfiction by Maggie Kast     229
The Heart Speaks$dmemoir by Sheila Kohler     238
Contributors' Notes     249
Acknowledgments     254

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Love You to Pieces: Creative Writers on Raising a Child with Special Needs 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
cpirmann on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A compelling collection of stories about living with and raising children with special needs. I have read many books about special needs children, mostly written by educators of these children, so this book was an interesting contrast and departure from those ensconced in the education field. While some of the stories were more touching than others, I felt they all worked together to create an impressive and heartfelt collection.
attolia on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is a compilation of essays, poems, and fiction dealing with the subject of raising children with special needs. Although I was wary, due to the title, that the contents would gloss over the tougher side of parenting children with special issues, I found them to have a gritty realism that I could relate to much more readily than the supposed heartwarming or inspiring stories I sometimes encounter. As a parent of special needs children I found it encouraging to read about other parents dealing with the re-evalaluation of their hopes for their children and the adjustments that entailed.
Librtea on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Love You to Pieces is not an easy book to read. Not because it is poorly written ¿ on the contrary, the book contains beautifully written essays, poems, and stories about children with disabilities and the families and individuals who care for them. This book is difficult to read because of its realistic, painfully honest accounts of life with special needs children. But it is this candor that makes the book such compelling reading. Those who are willing to persevere will find the experience rewarding.
saffron12 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is an excellent book, and it arrived at an interesting time in my life. My little baby son passed away at almost four months old due to congenital heart and lung defects. He was never able to come home from the hospital. He had some other things, too, and it was suggestive of a "syndrome" but his collection of 'symptoms' didn't match any known syndrome. If he had lived, what would his mind have been like after all the surgery, and the addiction to pain medication? His last few weeks, whenever he was awake and not on medication, he was agitated with withdrawal. Though there are works of fiction in this collection, I much prefer the memoirs and poetry. The editor herself has included a memoir in here, and it is very well written. It is the story of her twins, in Japan. Her daughter is deaf and cerebral palsy. I really enjoyed Michael Berube's "Great Expections" the most. It is about his son with Down Syndrome who loves the Beatles, and has learned all the minutia about them and their music. He struggles to learn french. This story is told in a very loving, and vaguely humorous way. "Moonrise" by Penny Wolfson was particularly moving to me. Her son has Duchenne's Muscular Dystrophy. She is worrying about Her son dying, and how "unnatural" it is that her son would die young. At the same time, she celebrates how vibrant her son is, and how life is still good in the present. This is an excellent collection of stories.
kcarp on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
As a religious educator, I was excited to read this book. I had recently finished Sally Patton's Welcoming Children with Special Needs, a guidebook to including all children into our faith communities. The two books effect a certain balance--where Patton's book focuses on logistics and is exceedingly positive in outlook, this book provides emotional and often heartbreaking glimpses into the lives of special needs children, their parents and their families.This collection ranges in form from short stories to poetry to excerpts from longer works and in topics covered from cerebral palsy to autism to several lesser-known disorders. And this wasn't just a Woman's Day 'Write to us about your child' sort of exercise--the writing is polished, exquisite. And yet you'll still have to put the book down from time to time, needing a breath.
novelnympho on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Love you to pieces is a wonderfully honesst compilation of short stories, memoirs and poems expressing the raw emotions, triumphs and dissapointements of those touched by raising a child with special needs. The book left me feeling educated, empathetic and emotionally exhausted. It was a very well written book with lessons and life experience anyone can ponder on. The truthfulness, the honesty and the poignant writing were enlightening.
Poopy on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
As a mother of three (a daughter with autism and younger twin daughters), I was very interested in the subject matter of this book: parenting ¿special needs¿ children. I wanted to see how other mothers addressed the uncertainty, the pain, the hastily revised expectations, and sometimes even the sheer joy ¿ that comes on the heels of learning that the perfect child you had envisioned for nine months (maybe longer!) is gone, and been replaced with an altogether different experience. I, personally, have gone through the heartache, the guilt, the anger, and have struggled to explain where I was coming from, and why my journey was not like those of my mother, my aunts, my friends. So how do others, more eloquent than I, describe this mixed blessing of having a special needs child? I am disappointed to say that most seem to describe it with a certain sadness, a longing in their hearts, an emphasis on the difficulty, the guilt, the work that a ¿different¿ child creates above and beyond that of neurotypical children. I have been there, to be sure, and can certainly attest that yes, life is like that for us ¿ some of the time. But more importantly, life is what we make it! You can go through life asking, ¿Why me?¿ or you can say, ¿Why NOT me?¿ and see your world as if it were half-full, so to speak, instead of half-empty. So while I felt the short stories and poems were all artfully written and accurately reflected the downside of the emotional spectrum one goes through during particularly difficult times, I found very little of the happier moments I¿ve learned to appreciate. A hug from one of my neurotypical daughters is lovely, to be sure, but one from my special needs daughter is all the more delightful for its rarity. If you are looking for a portrayal of the dark side of special needs parenting, these short stories, essays, and poems describe the heartache, guilt, and anger very eloquently. But they do not express nearly so well, the joy that is present, too.
FrontStreet on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is a compilation of fiction, non fiction and poetry from the perspectives of parents with special needs children. It portrays the strong emotions that parents experience while living and loving their children. It is not writing that celebrates differences or uniqueness. It looks at the dark side, the frustration, pain and struggle that can occur. It is not an up lifting book. It does not have to be- raising children has its ups and downs. And this book expresses the side not usually shown. The non-fiction pieces were the strength of the book. They have a stronger inpact as they are true and real.This book should be read by anyone in any of the fields working with families of special needs children. As an educator I will be sharing many of the stories with my collegues.
lpmejia on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Love You to Pieces: Creative Writers on Raising a Child with Special Needs is a beautiful tribute the the lives of parents who every day deal with the fact that their lives have taken a different turn than planned. With stories and poems by Bret Lott, Carol Zapata-Whelan, Michael Berube and more, Suzanne Kamata has collected experiences from a wide range of disabilities, reflecting a broad set of emotions. Some of the stories told are fiction, some non-fiction, but each gives voice to the day-to-day lives of these families in an artful and unique way. As the parent of a special needs child, I find myself constantly seeking out books containing the comforting voices of others who deal with the same challenges I do, and this book is a welcome addition to my collection.
jillm on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
As a parent of an autistic teenager, I found these stories to be realistic take on the emotional journey of raising a child with special needs. Some were harder to read than others, but I would definitely recommend it to other parents.
mckait on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a sometimes heart wrenching, sometimes hopeful and joy filled view of parenting children with special needs. From the pens of families you hear the good, the bad and they ugly realities of families of these children. Families facing the challenges that these children bring with them are facing a much harsher reality than parents of typical children. From schooling to coping with physical needs, particularly as the children grow often seems to be one battle after another. This book allows the reader a small window into the lives of real families. This is not just a book for families of children with disabilities, it is a book for parents, educators and friends of all children. Rarely have I seen such a brutally honest view of what these families deal with on a daily basis.
kaelirenee on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Love you to Pieces is a collection of honest, raw, and emotional stories and poems about raising a special needs child. The disabilities the children have range from Fragile X and autism to Downs Syndrome and unspecified mental retardation. Rather than focus completely on the bad or the good, the mothers, fathers, and caretakers in these stories explain life in its small parts. They explain everyday things like trying to figure out what the speech delayed child wants right now to coming to terms with faith. Every stage in raising a special needs child is examines, from premature birth (and there are many in this book) to coping with sexuality.The quality of stories is a bit uneven-some are touching and scream with their emotion. Some are just dull. But what is touching to one parent can leave another cold. I was actually comforted by the scene of a mother so frustrated with her autistic daughter she actually beat her (made me feel like I wasn't that bad for punching the crap out of my pillow when my son gets to me), but it annoyed me to read about how one mother not only raised her child with spina bifida, but helped a mentally retarded child as a form of penence (though I did love it when she started whailing on cabinetry).This realistic look into the minds of the parent of special needs children is an excellent read for special ed teachers, parents, or anyone who should know how a parent copes. I would have liked to see more from the perspective of the fathers, though. And I hope this book inspires more publishers to produce works like this. I'm torn between wanting to just read about other parents dealing with autism and wanting to see the perspective of the other parents I meet at Special Ed night at my son's school.
EnriqueFreeque on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'd like to say first that this collection of short stories, novel excerpts, poetry, and memoirs, stands on its own as good to great literature based solely on the writing: it's quality writing worth reading regardless of one's experience or education in the unique worlds of special needs. Having said that, if you do happen to live somewhere in these unique worlds, what a blessing to see your own struggles, isolations, fears, frustrations, dark thoughts of despair, anger & grief (and hopes and triumphs too!), bluntly and beautifully spelled out on the page as if you're reading a chapter out of your own life! My 9 year old daughter has Down syndrome & autism; and it's been hard! This compilation resonates with me--I don't feel quite so alone after reading each piece. For instance, when I read the following passage from "Without Strings" by Hannah Holborn: " neighbors slept with confidence inside their heavily mortgaged homes knowing that their children would be icons of socially conscious fashion, win athletic awards, read before kindergarten, earn honors, be beautiful....They would make their parents proud. "They would avoid my daughter like the plague."I know I'm not the only parent who's felt the deep pain & ongoing disappointment, ongoing grief of watching my child oftentimes be misunderstood and avoided by her "normal" peers. That one line, "They would avoid my child like the plague," packs such an emotional punch I can't help but pause, feel the truth of the artistry in that one line, and think, "Wow, this writer, Hannah Holborn, really gets it!"Each writer, of course, "gets it" in their own way. Carol Schmidt, in her poem, "A Question of Leaves," gets that moment of epiphany, when a special need's parent of a mentally challenged child reaches that point of understanding that her child will always be a child: "It might have been a sudden blast of wind / that made me catch my breath before / explaining to you carefully / that leaves in the spring are new, / not the old ones that fell off the trees in the fall".In "Victoria's Wedding," by Margaret Mantle, another parent dreams of her daughter's wedding, but the grief that never really goes away in the knowledge that her daughter never will have a wedding, is such a loss and sadness to this mother, that she must, while still dreaming mind you, make the dream "go away before I will be allowed to wake up".Yes, there's much shared sadness in these pieces, but it's not necessarily a sad or depressing read. When we share our sadness over our loss with a good friend, somehow the sharing of the loss eases the pain of loss and enables healing. I want to thank these writers for being so brave as to let us share in their sadness, in their stories; because I know I'm less sad and less isolated after reading them.
quadmama on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Love you to pieces is a compilation of several short stories and poems, both fiction and non-fiction. It was unclear to me whether or not each writer had personal experience with the disability and/or struggles that they were writing about. I was interested in reading this book from two different standpoints- first from a professional standpoint as a special educator working mostly with children under the age of 5. I was hoping to gain insight into what the home life might be like for the parents and caregivers of the children I work with. Secondly, as a mother of multiples who were premature I thought I might be able to relate to some of the struggles that may be covered in this book. Having not personally experienced the severity of these situations it is difficult for me to judge how accurate each story is portrayed.
sixteendays on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I requested this book because my younger brother has Aspergers. Although the stories were not specifically helpful in my situation, they were beautiful and touching.
mdbenoit on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book of short stories is written by creative writers and their families who live with (or lost) a child with special needs. Although the stories are a bit uneven, they are all wrenchingly honest in depicting the difficulties, the pain, but also the joy in raising a special needs child. This book may be difficult to read in some instance but it makes us understand, and see, especially for those of us who do not live it. And throughout, there is the love.
horomnizon on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Got this from an ER's batch. The items were very touching, although I cannot personally relate to them. It seemed as though it would be inspirational for people with special needs' children to read this and see what others have gone through and how coping is not always just about putting a smile on your face. Some true emotions come out in these pieces. Well done.