Susan's Reviews > Wordjazz for Stevie: How a Profoundly Handicapped Girl Gave Her Father the Gifts of Pain and Love

Wordjazz for Stevie by Jonathan Chamberlain
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Dec 07, 11

Read in December, 2011

Jonathan Chamberlain writes the perfect tribute to his late wife and daughter in this heart-wrenching memoir. Set mostly on a small outlaying island of Hong Kong, the story is nothing like the romantic Hong Kong Chamberlain paraphrases from Prizzi's Honor: "Let's forget about all this. Let's get away. Let's go to Hong Kong and change our names and disappear." (p. 22) But the book is a love story nonetheless.

His world suddenly changes when his wife gives birth to their first child and she's born with Down's Syndrome. The couple isn't quite sure how to handle this news, but they do what they can and try to look on the bright side. After their daughter Stevie undergoes a heart surgery that's common for babies with Down's, her condition takes a tragic turn for the worse and now she has cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and blindness. Chamberlain learns that Hong Kong is far from equipped to handle children with special needs and sets out to change this, even if he has to do it himself. Stevie never learns to sit up by herself, crawl, walk, or talk. But her life is filled with music and laughter. Soon after Chamberlain loses his daughter, his wife passes away from cancer.

Chamberlain is very brave as he faces two losses so close together. His story is a testament to the strength of man when faced with tragedy.
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