Friday, July 7, 2006

Daniel Isn't Talking, by Marti Leimbach

A friend of mine gave me an advance copy of this book this past spring. It intrigued me right away, but I decided to save it for a summer vacation read. The payoff for delayed gratification is always sweet, and the indulgence of reading for pleasure for the first time all year was delicious indeed.

However, there was a certain factor I didn't count on. The simple honesty of the author allowed for both humor and poignance. It evoked every feeling I experienced when my own son was diagnosed just over eight years ago. Very effective, yes, but not exactly the ticket for a vacation diversion.

"I am alert to everything, to the gentle rising of Daniel's chest, the warmth of his breath upon my cheek. I watch him sleep and I have only one wish for him. A wish that should never need be: that he was normal. Just normal. Just an average child. Not a superstar, not a genius, just a kid." ~page 70

Just like Melanie, the book's heroine, I remember that longing so very keenly. I remember weeping over my child as he slept, mourning the loss of my dreams for his future. Unlike Melanie, it took me a good deal more time to find my way into building new dreams. More time to learn not to trust every so-called expert. More time to step out of denial, through depression, and get to work.

This book is a universally true picture of all the components of that dreaded diagnostic phase. It will bring its readers who have never been touched directly by autism as close as they would ever want to get to feeling the terrible desperation that comes of watching your child's personality be stolen away. This is a story that took courage to write and is full--from the first word to the last--of unflinching integrity.