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Saturday, October 29, 2011

I Am In Here...Review by the Doctor

About the book:
Elizabeth Bonker is profoundly affected by autism and can’t speak, yet she illuminates the inner world of autism through poems that she types one finger at a time. I Am in Here: The Journey of a Child with Autism Who Cannot Speak but Finds Her Voice by Elizabeth Bonker and her mother Virginia Breen is the story of Elizabeth’s courage, determination, and optimism, and the relentless love of a mom who knew her daughter was "in there."

Over many years, Elizabeth learned to type independently on a letterboard and computer. Because the process is tedious, she began to write poetry, and has since written more than 100 poems. This child, who had been diagnosed as mentally retarded, is at last able to reveal her gifted mind in I Am in Here. The book is about:

Faith: Elizabeth’s poetry reveals a deep spiritual life, "contemplating God in a way that went beyond what she learned in Sunday School," Virginia says. "The burden of autism has helped us both understand one of life’s great mysteries. The most tangible way we experience God is through the presence of the people God has placed in our lives."

Clinging to Hope: "Autism Moms must find a way to cling to hope with a tenacity that is stronger than autism’s grip on our children," Virginia says. "My answer is finding the joy in the smallest of moments…a conscious choice to seek these small flowers of joy in the crannied wall."

Drawing Inspiration from 'How' People: 'How' people ask, 'how can I move forward?' rather than 'why me?' Elizabeth, with her overwhelming challenges, is the ultimate 'How' Person. The book also includes a gallery of the 'How' people whose inspiring stories are told in the book. "Elizabeth is my little flower, relentlessly breaking through autism with her poetry," Virginia writes. "Like the flowers in the sidewalk cracks, she is a quiet miracle."

There are some books that you read that you can't put down. You race from page to page desperate to know the ending. These books are the best sellers, because they give us a chance to escape reality for a while, to forget the trials and tribulations of our everyday lives as we drown our sorrows in the magic of a mythical happy ending.

However, sometimes you read a book that deserves to be a bestseller because it's not about a happy ending, and it's not a chance to escape reality, but an understanding of how to live your life better.

As a father of a boy with an autism spectrum disorder, I didn't think reading this book would be easy. And in large measure it isn't, not because it is a well-written (because it is) and not because it isn't heartwarming (because it is).

At its heart, this is a book about the harsh realities of life, and the struggles of a mother and a daughter to rise above diagnoses and despairs, and transform their lives into something wonderful, meaningful and illuminating.

Elizabeth Bonker is a young woman who cannot speak, but her words speak volumes of the power of the human spirit. Her mother, Virginia, redefines the role of what it means to be a mother, a friend, and a fierce champion for her daughter in the face of daunting and difficult odds.

As we are led through Elizabeth's life, Virginia gives us a side-by-side comparison of her works on behalf of Elizabeth, and on behalf of autistic children everywhere.

This book will move you to both tears and laughter, joy and sadness. Rarely does a book come along that reflects the humanity of our struggles everyday, and gives us hope that we too can rise above our own limitations, and become something more in the lives of others.

I wholeheartedly recommend this book. It will change how you feel about those with autism, and it'll give you hope for the struggles you have to fight every day.

Available October 2011 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. Thanks to Donna Hausler of Baker Publishing for the opportunity to review this book. You can learn more about Elizabeth and Virginia here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 10/11

* * * * *
5/5 Stars

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