Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Boy Who Loved Tornadoes by Randi Davenport


The Boy Who Loved Tornadoes
by Randi Davenport
2010
*****
5 stars - outstanding!



Probably not the best choice on the eve of the birth of my first grandchild, a boy, but it popped to the top of the queue, so there you go.

The Boy Who Loved Tornadoes chronicles the struggles of single mother, Randi Davenport, with her son, Chase. Chase was an odd child, diagnosed first with autism, then with ADD, then with who knows what. At the onset of puberty, he developed a seizure disorder that resulted in a fall that required three surgeries to correct the damage incurred to his spine. 

Things went from bad to worse after that and after a few years, he suffered a psychotic break which required immediate hospitalization.

And thus begins the journey of Chase, his mother, and his younger sister, Haley. 

From the start, Chase presented a vexing problem to the medical community. His combination of symptoms did not fall into any single category and his mind was unresponsive to a battalion of different medications.

The story progresses with chapters alternating between past and present as Ms. Davenport describes the years leading up to Chase's hospitalization and her struggles to find a placement for him. Were she not a determined and resourceful woman, I shudder to think of what would have become of him.

But Ms. Davenport is, indeed, resourceful and determined. She spends months and then years trying to get her son the care he needs, all the while battling a system that is woefully unprepared to manage corner cases such as his. While in the intensive treatment facility, it is only a mother's love that keeps her coming and keeps her battling. Chase doesn't recognize her and is frequently violent towards her. Ms. Davenport is also working to help her daughter recover and grow after the trauma of living in a household with a brother whose behavior is unpredictable and whose symptoms demand constant attention. 

Kudos to Ms. Davenport for her writing style. I frequently find non-fiction rough going, but she pens her tale in a fashion that quickly draws the reader in. Heartbreaking, while somewhat trite, it the word that comes to mind. 

When faced with such devastating facts, one tries to figure out what could have been done differently to bring on better outcomes. Sadly, I could not find a single thread of hope and in fact I doubt I would have had the fortitude to persist as well as the author did. 

This is certainly a thought provoking book and an important one to read. I highly recommend it.

3 comments:

  1. Yikes! That sounds downright heavy. I guess it's all in the writing. Hey, congratulations to you and the Master on the soon-to-be-arriving bi-ped! That's pretty exciting news!

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  2. Congrats on the grandson! In no time, he'll be chasing Dexter around like there's no tomorrow.

    This could be a real downer of a book. It's amazing that Chase's mother dealt with this situation as well as she did. But, sometimes I wonder if there's too much overdiganosing of autism and especially ADD and ADHD. With the latter 2, I often find that someone's trying to cure a boy of just being a normal, active boy, and that is the saddest thing of all to me. Some mild cases of autism strike me as just a severely introverted child, and I really hate the labeling of children.

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  3. Mazel tov on the new branch on the family tree!

    How some people find the strength to play the hand they're dealt is beyond me.

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