It starts slowly and subtly. Chirp (bird loving Naomi) has a
dancer mom, Hannah. Her mother is experiencing a series of
inexplicable symptoms: a burning sensation in her leg, a pronounced
limp, an unfocused eye. On Halloween Chirp and her sister, Rachel,
hear a terrifying diagnosis confirmed: multiple sclerosis.
For anyone such a disease would be daunting. (The story is set
in the 1970s when much less was known on how to slow its progression.)
For a dancer it would be devastating. Not surprisingly, Hannah falls
apart emotionally. When she has to be hospitalized, it is for severe
depression. The remaining family members must pull together and assume
new roles even as they struggle with not knowing what kind of future
is left for someone they love dearly and desperately.
This coming of age story is authentic, poignant, and inspiring.
It's an excellent read, particularly for kids in families facing
overwhelming challenges--medical or otherwise.
On a personal note, I was the same age as Chirp, 11, when my Girl
Scout leader mother and I had to rush back from a weekend camp out in
Maine because my sister was assumed to be dying. She pulled through
only with severe brain damage. Coming of age in a family in which a
sibling has been transformed over night, one parent becomes
increasingly distant while the other is overwhelmed by work and a
daughter's high needs, and everyone seems to have forgotten that you
are still a child is far from easy.
A great big shout out goes out to families forced to enter unchartered
territories by unexpectedly having the world as they know it pulled
out from under their collective feet.
Julia Emily Hathaway
Sent from my iPod