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The Boy Who Loved Tornadoes

3.93  ·  Rating Details  ·  156 Ratings  ·  38 Reviews
Randi Davenport's story is a testament to human fortitude, to hope, and to a mother's uncompromising love for her children.
She had always worked hard to provide her family with a sense of stability and strength, despite the challenges of having a son with autism and a husband whose erratic behavior sometimes puzzled and confused her.
But eventually, Randi's husband slippe
ebook, 384 pages
Published March 30th 2010 by Algonquin Books
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Nov 04, 2010 Mical rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Esther Bradley-detally
A harrowing tale brilliantly told, of a very loved child and his mother who fights to save him. Randi Davenport is heroic, a mother, aren't we all heroes when it comes to our kids, but she goes beyond the pale.

Because of the multitude of brain symptoms, Randi Davenport faces Kafkaesque situations, i.e., stairways leading nowhere, primitive conditions for mental health care, and for years she is up front and dealing with no care for her son in the schools, in the state's mandates, no institutions
Apr 25, 2010 Pat rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A hauntingly beautiful book about one Mother's fight to save her son Chase and the sad tale of the mental health system in North Carolina.

"Chase was fourteen that day, and Haley was ten. Despite my high hopes, and I had many, there was never any possibility of staying with the others. The cant of Chase's head, the soft slur of his words, the pitch and lean of his walk, his tendency to fall to staring or into convulsions, his preternatural interest in things morbid and otherwordly, his obession
This book moved me so much - it terrified me, exhausted me, made me cry and left me puzzled - that I had to take a break from it halfway through, and read some frothy chick lit. I'm ashamed to admit that, when Randi Davenport lived (lives!) every parent's worst nightmare - when there is something horribly wrong with your child and no one can figure out what it is.

*This* is what a real Tiger Mother is...the devotion and dedication and determination (alliteration not intended) she exhibits while t
K2 -----
Sep 05, 2010 K2 ----- rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked up this book mostly because it was published by Algonquin and it's rare to read an Algonquin Book that I don't enjoy. I thought it was about a woman's struggle with an autistic son and that seemed interesting to me also since I don't know that much about autism.

What I read instead was a mother's journey to get her son's challenging mental illness treated properly and her quest to cope with life as a single mother while trying to maintain some balance in her younger daughter's life.

May 24, 2010 Chris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-own
I can't truthfully say that I've read all that many memoirs in my life; I've read fewer still about families coping with mental illness. That said, Davenport's book stands tall not just as an historical record of her family's nearly unimaginable struggles, but as a creative work written with an ability to construct an almost literary structure, framing the events in an emotional and chronological span that encompasses multiple lives, decades, and locations.

Because of Davenport's skill as a write
Kristin R
This is the true story of a family that despite mental illness, struggles to maintain a little normalcy.

Chase is 15, high-functioning autistic, who suffers from seizures,and eventually slips into a psychosis that holds a tight grip on him.

His mom fights for him every way possible.

George Ilsley
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 21, 2012 Gail rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a difficult book to read - you feel so sorry for the Mom trying to deal with everything by herself and not really knowing what was wrong. When something goes wrong with a child, we hope that there will be experts who can help and agencies that can point us in the right direction, and facilities that will help care for our child if it comes to that. But, in many cases, it seems like luck if you find what you need. A parent must be incredibly resilient, brave, and steadfast, and Randi Dav ...more
Evanston Public  Library
Chase was always different; however the medical community was never really able to put a label on Randi Davenport’s son. After being assured that autism and mental illness could not exist in one person, her son, at age 13, seemed to have fallen into that category. The Boy Who Loved Tornadoes is Davenport’s account of life with an atypical autistic and profoundly psychotic son and the broken healthcare system in America which has no place for a boy like Chase. This profound story of a mother’s lo ...more
A well-written, gripping, heartbreaking and ultimately triumphant story of Randi Davenport's experiences as the mom of a son with... no one is ever sure what, but with numerous, sometimes conflicting and always confusing neurological, mental and developmental problems, rendering him unable to care for himself or interface with the world. Autism? Schizophrenia? Certainly seizures are part of the problem, but a global diagnosis evades, and Chase seems to live in a world of one. Davenport's struggl ...more
Jun 24, 2015 Chelsea rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a memoir about the author's severely developmentally disabled son and her struggle to find a place that would treat him. Specialists are unsure whether her son Chase's psychosis is a result of schizophrenia or extreme autism, but virtually EVERYONE refuses to treat him. I found it absolutely heartbreaking, very well researched, and full of insight on the state of our broken mental health system. I could feel the mother's frustration as doctors struggled to diagnose Chase, and as hospita ...more
May 18, 2011 Martha rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: justice, memoir
It's hard enough to have a child with emotional disorders. But having a child with an extremely rare and debilitating mental health disorder is an incredible experience. This family faced the additional challenge of seeking treatment at a atone when their state underwent a difficult and in many ways unsuccessful shift in the way mental health services are provided. The result was that no one was prepared to provide the needed treatment for this unique young man. Davenport's commitment to both of ...more
Holli  Ronquillo
Dec 12, 2010 Holli Ronquillo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This memoir is truly miraculous. It's beautifully written - almost like poetry at times, but it's also a gripping story. It's a heartbreaking story of a mother who goes through so much to keep her family together while fighting for her son, who suffers from something nobody really knows or understands. They thought it was autism, but it seemed to be much more. My heart ached for this family and it also inspired me anew to help shed light on (and find ways to help improve) the limited rights of t ...more
This is the story of a boy's slide from acute to chronic psychosis, and what happens to his family along the way. All I can say is: Wow. What a fing story. I can't imagine what Randi Davenport went through, but damn was it intense. I've been thinking I'd be into trying out Pediactric Psych one of these days, when my current research work (adult dual diagnosis) is complete, and this book has made me feel that this would be a great specialty to move into. So thanks Randi and Chase for the inspirat ...more
Jan 14, 2012 Becky rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2012
This book is not well written, and the title is misleading. I knew it was a memoir by a woman about her autistic and mentally ill son, but there are only a few pages about his apparently short-lived obsession with weather. The book needed more (and better) editing, and the writer has some annoying quirks. For example, she repeats things three times, such as "over and over and over." She does it again and again and again, and it gets very annoying.
Jul 13, 2013 Laura rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book, although it is both heartbreaking and terrifying. As a parent of a special needs teen in NC myself, I cannot imagine how hard it was to first live this experience, and then to relive it by writing about it. Randi is an extraordinarily brave person for sharing her story, and I thank her for it. I can only hope and pray that the care of mentally ill children improves, but unfortunately it only seems to be getting worse, at least in NC.
A difficult to read book, written by the mother of a boy with mental illness. It examines the effect of this on her life, the life of the young boy, their family, and those around them. It also examines the way in which mental illness is dealt with, or not dealt with in our society, and how difficult it is to get appropriate care for the mentally ill. 7/17/11
May 31, 2010 Erin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a teacher, I really identified with this mother's search to find a "label" for her son and thereby find a treatment. The book was a nice reminder that children aren't just labels, and many children truly are a population of one, but that doesn't mean anyone should give up on them. Inspiring and sometimes heartbreaking true story.
Dec 05, 2010 Josh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was incredibly beautiful -- a mother's memoir of trying to find adequate care for her psychotic son. Not just a heartbreaking story, but beautifully written. She tells the story with the exact right day-to-day details so that you can't help but identify with her. I can't recommend it highly enough.
Apr 29, 2010 A. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this extra heartbreaking because it's a story of North Carolina and North Carolina's failure to cope with mental illness; many of the facilities named in Davenport's story of her son's psychotic break are places I work with on a regular basis, and it made me despair a little in a lot of ways.
Jun 17, 2012 Lockc rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I thought the writing was too descriptive with everyday details, but the author did not explain the symptoms of autism. Very uninformative about the disease. Also, the book is not well written and the author has a MA in creative writing and a Phd in Literature!
Sue Kozlowski
Aug 11, 2012 Sue Kozlowski rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
True story. She has a son Chase that no one can diagnose. Her husband Zip seems to have a mental issue too. She works to get the system to help her son. He is committed but does come home regularly to visit.
Apr 24, 2011 Helene rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A heartbreaking story of a mother's determination to get help for her son. Well-written and somehow not overly sentimental, this book kept me up to finish it and then because I couldn't get it out of my head.
Aug 25, 2010 Diana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An absorbing memoir about a mother's nightmare of watching her son become deeply psychotic...the author is a professor of creative writing, and this elevates this memoir above others in the genre.
Megan Kudzia
Apr 09, 2012 Megan Kudzia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Megan by: Nicole Garrett
This book was amazing. The author doesn't spare herself, or anyone else, in this deeply affecting but unsentimental look at what happens when what was supposed to happen, doesn't. Read this now.
Steve Voiles
A good novel to help you contemplate mental illness and the challenges of family support. You will probably recognize parts of yourself or your loved ones somewhere in this book.
Jun 25, 2010 Renee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Such a sad situation that even in this day and age, there are not adequate facilities for those with mental illness. :( This was so captivating, I read it in one day.
Mary Mullen
I really enjoyed this book, but felt like the narrative perspective was too fixed and rigid (trying not to say: old) when treating her ex-husband in particular.
This book was just all right. It is highly rated here on goodreads, but I just had too many unanswered questions I feel the author could have talked about.
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Randi Davenport is the author of The End of Always (Twelve, 2014) and of The Boy Who Loved Tornadoes (Algonquin, 2010). In 2011, she received the Great Lakes Colleges Association New Writer’s Award for Creative Non-fiction, and was a finalist for the Books for a Better Life Award. Her short fiction and essays have appeared in Huffington Post, Washington Post, Ontario Review, Alaska Quarterly Revie ...more
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