Thursday, May 20, 2010

Review: The Boy Who Loved Tornadoes by Randi Davenport

This is a heartbreaking memoir about a mother who struggles with her developmentally delayed son and finding the best possible doctors, home, and care for her loved boy. Davenport's son Chase has been labelled with a veritable plethora of diagnoses over the years but none of them seems to be comprehensive enough or accurate enough to explain everything that is going on in Chase's world, especially as his symptoms change, weaken, or intensify with all sorts of internal and external stimuli. As this is a memoir, there is no fairy tale ending here, just the uncertainty and sorrow of watching and loving a son who is often unreachable. Davenport swings from the early years when Chase started showing indications that he was delayed to her more recent struggles to find an appropriate facility to house Chase and all the bureaucratic mess involved in holding the state accountable for what they needed to provide for this indefinable boy/man. She delves into the possible genetic connection, hinting that her ex-husband suffered from instabilities and mental health issues that intensified when manifest in Chase. She examines the impact of a child like Chase on a typical sibling, especially when she, as a single parent, must focus so much of her attention on Chase's care leading to guilt over her perceived neglect of Chase's younger sister Haley.

This is a memoir of difficulty and caring, frustration and love, despair and intensity. It is completely raw and unflinchingly emotional. Hard to read because of the freighted content, this is also the story of a mother fighting for what is best for her son, of perseverance and a dogged persistence that has given Chase the chance to live a life as unfettered as it is possible for him to live, not vegetative from drugs, not locked up as if criminal, but cared for and progressing along his own timeline. The writing is stark and precise and weighted by the depth of Davenport's emotion but it is beautiful and terrible and sad all at once.


  1. This sounds so poignant! Thanks for reviewing this, it sounds hard to read, but I may give it a try.

  2. Y'know, I have this and was planning on reading it...but I have to admit I didn't even know what it was about, and now I'm not so sure I want to. I'm only 24—I don't know how much I can relate to a mother memoir.


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