I read an ARC of Deb Kim’s All I Can Handle: I’m No Mother Teresa a month ago, and I’m still thinking about it. This is high praise from someone who regularly watches movies and reads books only to discover halfway through that I have read or seen them before. I have the memory of a goldfish.
But Kim Stagliano’s book is different – her story is absolutely memorable, and the book itself is very funny, especially given how many hardships their family has had – multiple bouts of unemployment and financial trauma, relocations and irresponsible landlords, and, oh yeah, the fact that all three of their gorgeous daughters have autism. If this were fiction, you’d never believe it.
I didn’t know much about autism before I read the book, though I’ve heard the buzz about vaccines and autism, and about the increased number of cases along the spectrum, and what I really respected is though Kim is honest about her experiences and her opinions, I never felt like I was being bullied into believing any particular viewpoint. Mostly I just was reading a story about a family that has had more than their fair share of difficulties, but gets through it all with a healthy dose of humor and love. You don’t have to have – or even know – a child affected by autism to enjoy Kim’s book.
Recently, I was listening to a This American Life episode called “Unconditional Love”, (the whole thing is worth listening to, but the story I refer to starts at about 38:00 – click ‘Play Episode’ on the page) and one of the stories was about a family with an autistic son. Many of the things they talk about are things Kim has mentioned, in the book or on Twitter or her blog. There was one line that stuck out to me in particular – the father says, “Almost daily, we experience things that other parents would recount for the rest of their lives as their biggest parenting horror story.” And this is what Kim does so well in her book – she takes those horror stories and lets us laugh at them, but she also lets us know that this is serious. She’s an activist and a warrior mom, and though I’ve never met her family, I love them all.
It’s well worth the read, and I’m rooting for All I Can Handle to become a bestseller – once you read it, you won’t be able to stop thinking about it.
Good luck, Kim!
P.S. It’s Election Day! Hie yourself to the polls, if you haven’t already!