RAISING HENRY: A Memoir of Motherhood, Disability, and Discovery
By Rachel Adams
272 pp. $26
When her second son was born, Rachel Adams writes, he had the same “scaly newborn feet” as his older brother but still, “there was something about him that didn’t quite make sense to me.” Henry had Down syndrome, she soon learned, and in this quietly moving memoir, Adams writes about coming to terms with her son’s diagnosis, education, limitations, and identity. A professor whose own research focused on the tradition of the freak show, Adams is well-suited to explore the meanings of disability — and her affection for the “rebellious individuality” of the so-called freaks gives her a kind of courage with which to help her son. Generous and honest, Adams politely rejects some of the frames others want to put on her family. Henry isn’t an angel, she isn’t a saint. “We didn’t plan for things to happen this way,” she writes, “but our lives weren’t tragic.”
Kate Tuttle, a writer and editor, can be reached at email@example.com.