This weeks book, Just Like Other Daughters by Colleen Faulkner, works on so many levels. There’s sorrow and humor and hope threaded through out the novel, just as in real life. At its heart, the book is about a mother’s love for her child. That child happens to have Down’s Syndrome.
The ending of the novel is foreshadowed in the very first line: I lost Chloe twice. Throughout the novel, there are little blips where it switches from first person past to first person present… Those blips are not a slip (and you know me, I’d call ’em out if they were). You need to pay attention to them. As a writer, I find it breath taking how she prepares us, the reader, for what’s going to happen and yet… it still makes you catch your breath on a small sob when it does.
Now, on a more personal note… This book made me look at how tightly I keep my son to me. Granted, he’s only seven years old. However… I started loosening the reigns with him. Because he *can* do it. We went into B&N (you know I love that store), it was just the two of us. He wanted to play at the Lego table. He PROMISED he wouldn’t go anywhere else– not even to the bathroom. And if anyone tried to take him somewhere else, he’d scream.
So I walked away. Like any good mom, I hid behind a book shelf and watched him for a while. He was perfectly fine. I walked away for a few minutes, went back to check and there he was… still happily building at the Lego table. Shopped some more, went back and checked on him. The guy working the Nook desk finally took pity on me and told me “He’s fine. I’m right here, and he’s fine.”
Wow. Am I that much of a helicopter mom? I need to loosen the reigns, I guess, and let him learn to live in the real world instead of the bubble I want to make for him.
At the heart of “Just Like Other Daughters”, that’s what Alicia and Chloe face. Chloe has Down syndrome… and comes home in love one day. How do you let go, how do you protect your child while letting them experience the world… That is what Just Like Other Daughters is about.