Thursday, April 03, 2008

Book Review: Road Map to Holland by Jennifer Graf Groneberg


When I started blogging back in 2006 it was my plan to include book reviews in my writing (hence my title.) Well now, I am finally writing one! It appears that everyone in the blogosphere reads faster than I do—I got the book on Saturday (the day it came out) and there have been reviews popping up since Sunday…. I have to write this so I can read those—the pressure is intense!

I first ran across the writings of Jennifer Graf Groneberg in the blogosphere. Jennifer is a wife and the mother of three little boys: 4 year old Carter and 2 year old twins Bennett and Avery. Avery has Down syndrome. Well known in the blogosphere for her blog Pinwheels and her contributions to Parent Dish. ,

Road Map to Holland is a beautifully written memoir of the 2 years after the author’s twins were born. Embedded in the story of the consuming life of parenting babies and toddlers is the story of expanding a family and life-vision to embrace Avery’s diagnosis of Down syndrome.

Among the diapers, spoonfuls of rice cereal and trips to the park are the moments of struggle and the moments of success, the heartwarming responses of the neighborhood children and the heart-wrenching loss of friendship with 'a woman not named Cathy.' There are the inadvertent comparisons between Bennett who is developing typically and Avery who experiences delays—and the lessons learned about each child being on their own path. Woven into the story are the supports, resources and the books that serve as guides to living and thriving with Down syndrome.

For me this book was a delight.

The title is based on the wonderful essay “Welcome to Holland” by Emily Perl Kingsley which uses the analogy of changed travel plans to show that, while changed plans are disruptive and can be upsetting for a time, unplanned destinations have charms of their own. This essay was given to me by one of my friends while I was still in the hospital after my daughter who has Down syndrome was born.

My three children are 18, 16 and 14 today and reading this beautifully detailed story brought me right back to the years of parenting 3 kids under 4—especially poignant as my oldest prepares to graduate from high school.

I remember the exhaustion and the elation. I remember the reading—many of the titles mentioned in this book are on my own shelf (or were until I passed them on to other families.) I remember the worrying and the moments that assured me that I was right where I should be.

This book is a beautiful read for new parents of children with Down syndrome, it is also a touching reminder for parents of older children—each of our stories are different in the details, but connected at the core.

1 comment:

jennifergrafgroneberg said...

It's an honor to be the first book review here! Thank you so much for reading, and for writing about my story with such acceptance and support.