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That Went Well: Adventures in Caring for My Sister

3.58  ·  Rating Details ·  481 Ratings  ·  135 Reviews
Meet Terrell Dougan's sister, Irene: a woman in her sixties who still believes in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny--but who also enjoys playing those characters for the children at the local hospital; whose favorite outfit, which she'll sneak into whenever Terrell's back is turned, consists of Mickey Mouse kneesocks and shorts; who wins over the neighborhood kids by hostin ...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published January 6th 2009 by Hyperion (first published January 1st 2009)
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283rd out of 734 books — 385 voters
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disability studies
36th out of 134 books — 24 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 938)
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Mar 09, 2009 Christine rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2009-reads
This was a humorous, usually heartwarming and sometimes heartbreaking book about a difficult subject. Terrell’s sister, Irene, suffered brain damage at birth and would forever be a child in heart and mind. After the death of her parents Terrell became primary caretaker for her sister. This book not only describes her trials and tribulations in that role, and the effect it had on her everyday life, but emphasizes that sometimes necessity is truly the mother of invention. Her family was the first ...more
Apr 24, 2009 Heather rated it it was amazing
Terrell Harris never expected that the beautiful baby sister born on that stormy March day would be different from the other children in the neighborhood, but as she ducks a flying chicken thrown at her by her sister in the supermarket isle many years later, she reflects back on her life with Irene by her side. As youngsters, the girls' parents struggled to give them the most joyful life possible. For Terrell, that meant going to the theater, taking horseback riding lessons and learning to ice s ...more
Barbara Nutting
Aug 14, 2016 Barbara Nutting rated it it was amazing
A humorous look at what must actually be a very trying situation. Beautifully written with love.
Sep 08, 2010 Jackie rated it liked it
A heart warming, and also heart wrenching, book about two sisters, one with a disability. Well written and insightful. I loved the fact that it was an honest account of both sides, the caregiver and the disabled. Some of these types of books are sugar coated or full of justifications. I appreciated Ms. Dougan's comments on the LDS Church and their kind acts of service to Irene. My brother-in-law's family is Catholic, and when his mother was diagnosed with cancer he told her to find the nearest L ...more
Whistlers Mom
Sep 24, 2016 Whistlers Mom rated it it was amazing
This is a truly memorable book.

I read between 200 and 300 books per year and while I enjoy them all most are quickly forgotten. I read a library copy of this book shortly after it was published and was so impressed that I recommended it to several friends who have mentally challenged relatives. In a down-to-earth, bluntly honest, and frequently hilarious way, this author tells what it's like to have a mentally handicapped sibling.

The story of her parents, who refused to allow their brain-damaged
Feb 23, 2009 Lynne rated it it was amazing
Terrell is local. She is a close friend of my cousin. Her family later lived in our neighborhood where I grew up. This is such a wonderful and uplifting story about dealing with an almost impossible situation. We all seem to have one family member who needs a lot more oversight, care, or nurturing. She tells her story about dealing with her mentally handicapped sister in a way can can all feel. I am uplifted by her words in dealing with my own life.
Naomi Campbell
Jun 17, 2016 Naomi Campbell rated it really liked it
The feel of this book reminded me of "A Girl Named Zippy," and "She Got Up Off the Couch: And Other Heroic Acts from Mooreland, Indiana." Funny but yet heartfelt memoirs. She really did crack me up, and you'll fall in love too with her sister Irene! Yes, there were struggles. No, they didn't always probably do the exact right thing, and they know this, but boy did they love and care and TRY! Small warning, this author doesn't have a relationship with God, so, in not knowing Who He is, she a few ...more
May 17, 2015 Brandy rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed the book a lot.

Her writing is well paced, and she tells the story of her and her family without bogging down the reader with too much mundane detail. It's interesting to see how her and her family fought for the right to have people with significant disabilities cared for in their own community.

She has a warm heart and speaks lovingly about her sister. It gives you a good glimpse into their lives without invading her sister's privacy. Terell also doesn't shy away from admitting at tim
Funny and cute
Sep 12, 2015 Lauren rated it liked it
When Terrell was 6 years old, her parents welcomed a little sister into their family. While Terrell was happy to have a sibling at long last, the whole family began to realize something wasn’t quite right about their new arrival. After a few years of slow development, the doctors confirmed that little Irene had an IQ of only 57, and she wasn’t expected to ever read, write, or be able to care for herself. In a time when intellectually disabled children were usually sent away or locked up in hidde ...more
May 05, 2011 Diana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I got this book in our book club book exchange. It is the story of a family who has one "normal" little girl and then has a girl with a developmental disability. The story begins in the 50's when there are not many options open to families. Of course they were told to institutionalize Irene.
Irene doesn't really fit in anywhere. The family, especially Irene's sister Terrell, become activitists and develop new options for Irene. Life in the family is difficult and yet rewarding and they try to see
This book struck home for me in many ways. My future brother in law is mentally handicapped, and reading this memoir made me so grateful to people like the author. Because of people like her, he lives in a group home that understands how to take care of him.

I respected her honesty in describing the difficulty of caring for her sister. She is not someone who succumbed to denial. She is excruciatingly aware of her sister's flaws and of their effect on the author, as well as her parents and grandmo
Kathy (Bermudaonion)
Feb 24, 2009 Kathy (Bermudaonion) rated it really liked it
When Terrell Harris’s younger sister was born, it was a difficult birth for her mother. The baby’s brain didn’t receive enough oxygen, so Irene was born brain damaged. The family had Irene tested at the University of Utah and were told that she has an IQ around 57, she will never learn to read and write and that her emotional age is around 3. Doctors recommended institutionalizing her, but the family refused. They brought Irene home and life went on. They tried enrolling her in school, and when ...more
Eva Leger
Aug 17, 2009 Eva Leger rated it liked it
Recommends it for: memoir readers, people who have a mentally disabled sibling/family member
Recommended to Eva by: found it on-line
I really wish I had the half star option right now because I feel this deserves more than just three stars. Rating it four stars is going a little far for me though so I'll leave it at three.
There is a blurb on the front (which I always read) from the author of Riding The Bus With My Sister and she calls this "thought-provoking"- it is. So many times authors will leave these blurbs and they are so off point it's hilarious. This, however, isn't one of those times.
That Went Well made me do a lot
Apr 25, 2009 Jennifer rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir
Basic Overview
That Went Well: Adventures in Caring for My Sister documents the author's journey in caring for her sister with special needs. Terrell Harris Dougan's sister Irene is a woman in her 60s who still believes in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny -- but who also enjoys dressing up like these characters for children at a local hospital. Irene's favorite outfit consists of Mickey Mouse knee socks and shorts -- no matter what the weather. Irene finds love wherever she goes -- including her
Tanya W
This was an interesting and humorous autobiographical book about caring for a mentally handicapped sister. It was a quick, easy read, and likable, though not as compelling as I expected it to be.

I have to admit, a couple of things she said made me a little biased and less sympathetic than I might have otherwise been. I thought it was unusual for her to assert that her mother's lot caring for her and her sister (with the help of grandma) was more difficult than the lot of their neighbors who had
Shannon McGee
Apr 09, 2013 Shannon McGee rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013
Terrell uses the book to write about her trials with her mentally handicapped older sister. Terrell tries very hard to treat her sister, Irene, as everyone else but every time she tries Irene show that she is not. That Went Well is a book that talks about the negative and positive of taking care of a handicap family member.

I liked that the family kept a good sense of humor throughout tough times. I also think compared to other memoirs with handicapped family member this one didn’t fluff the boo
Jun 06, 2009 Laren rated it it was ok
Shelves: memoirs
The author's sister was oxygen-deprived at birth and therefore was slower to develop than other kids. That and her lower IQ caused doctors to recommend her parents to institutionalize her as was the accepted custom of the time. Instead, they raised her at home. The author explains the good and bad of this, and how she came to be responsible for her sister after their deaths.

This isn't a boring "inspirational" story about how we can learn a lot from people different than us. For one thing, the au
Jul 22, 2009 Samantha rated it liked it
That Went Well: Adventures In Caring for My Sister is a memoir about Terrell Dougan's life and how she dealt with having a sister with mental disabilities. Terrell's parents made the choice not to institutionalize her sister Irene which meant life was always interesting to say the least. They ended up becoming advocates for people with mental disabilities and working towards other types of living arrangements for them.

What I liked about this book were all of the stories about Irene and what made
Natalie Williams
Sep 26, 2015 Natalie Williams rated it really liked it
To anyone who has ever had or ever known someone who has loved one with developmental disabilites . . . this book is for YOU. It not only shows you that you're not alone for feeling the contradictory way you feel, it offers insight, humor, and pratical methods for dealing with the day to day challenges of caring for a loved one who has DD (I imagine that those who care for peeps with various Dementias could find some comfort here). Good read, indeed!
Apr 17, 2010 Doreen rated it liked it
One sister is mentally challenged. The other sister recaps their lives together, including frustrations and victories associated with it. The author is funny and honest. She doesn't paint an, "everything is wonderful and perfect", picture. She also doesn't give the impression of, "oh woe is us, we've got a cross to bear, so life isn't easy"! She doesn't fall into those traps. She shares the wonderful, humorous moments of her special sister...the silliness and unexpected diversions. The author al ...more
Miki Garrison
Mar 29, 2010 Miki Garrison rated it it was amazing
There are a decent number of memoirs out there that talk about caring for a disabled family member, but most of them seem to sugar-coat either the family member in focus or the narrating caretaker. This book is engaging, thought-provoking, and funny, without trying to sweep over mistakes and struggles.

On top of it all, the narrator was heavily involved in the movement that helped transform care for the disabled from being institution-focused to being community-centered -- and so while the book
Becky Roper
Apr 21, 2016 Becky Roper rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
The memoir of a woman with a mentally handicapped sister, their growing up years, and as adults when she became her sister's advocate. It takes place in Salt Lake beginning in the 1950's. It was a realistic look at the challenges they faced, laced with humor. It also gives a bit of the history of the local development of organizations to assist those with handicaps. Thought provoking.
Apr 01, 2009 Marjanne rated it liked it
This was an interesting book to read. I have worked at a 'sheltered workshop' for adults with mental disabilities for several years, so I feel like I really understood where the author was coming from. I have no idea how the families of the disabled do it. They are such a challenging segment of our society. Working with these folks can be a ton of fun and very rewarding, but a lot of days it is simply frustrating. I feel like the author conveys this well with her experiences with her sister. And ...more
Jul 07, 2016 Anita rated it really liked it
A very nice read that takes place in Salt Lake City--the Avenues to be precise--from the fifties to the present. It traces the history of our care for the mentally retarded to mentally challenged to special needs citizens through the story of Terrell and her sister Irene. I enjoyed the local history and politics. I remember going down to American Fork and playing on the wonderful playground that sucked all the money for special education community programs. I remember when the Columbus Center be ...more
May 29, 2009 Laura rated it it was amazing
I LOVE this title and decided I really wanted to read the book. I am so glad I did. It is a nonfiction story about living with and trying to find the right way to take care of a mentally disabled sibling over a lifetime.[return][return]The whole story, the little stories that make up the whole, the coming of age and then aging stories were all well written and I enjoyed the book immensely. We meed Terrell and watch her growing up and learning who she wants to be. We also meet her younger sister ...more
Jul 21, 2010 Shellie rated it really liked it
Recommended to Shellie by: Tanya W
Going into this book I had no idea it was a local author, so when I started reading familiar addresses, businesses and sights I was surprised - and pleased.

This book tells of an amazing journey, one that I am so completely thankful I have not had to take. I am one of the 'weak' people she speaks of, special needs frighten me on so many levels. On the other hand, this was so much fun to read. The stories she chooses to tell and her incredibly humorous and sarcastic way of telling them is complete
May 05, 2009 Diane rated it liked it
This book was recommended to me by one of the health professionals that sees Ryan. She assured me that our situation was quite different that the one described in the memoir but she thought that I might enjoying reading the book nonetheless. The author, Dougan, is a Salt Lake native who describes her experiences growing up with a mentally disabled sister and later becoming her caregiver.

She shares the joy and pain of trying to carve out the best life possible for her sister. She tells a sometim
Very touching story using humor and a open and honest heart. Not only is Terrell Dougan a wonderful sister but a beautiful person. What a open and honest look into a caretakers world of a special needs person.
I read this book in a matter of hours, just could not put it down.
Oct 27, 2010 Kara rated it liked it
It was a very candid and quirky read about the real life responsibilities some family members face when their siblings or parents have health issues. Terrell's (the healthy sister) whole life ended up revolving around her younger sister who was Down Syndrome. She made strides politically in helping mentally challenged adults get the care but also the independence they need to live the most productive lives. Terrell's parents were very concerned about getting older and having the responsibility o ...more
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