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The Child Who Never Grew: A Memoir

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  375 Ratings  ·  51 Reviews
Pearl S. Buck’s groundbreaking memoir, hailed by James Michener as “spiritually moving,” about raising a child with a rare developmental disorder

Child Who Never Grew is Buck’s candid memoir of her relationship with her oldest daughter, who was born with a rare type of mental retardation. A forerunner of its kind, the memoir was published in 1950 and helped demolish th
ebook, 107 pages
Published August 21st 2012 by Open Road Media (first published January 1st 1969)
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Jul 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One might consider The Good Earth as Pearl S. Buck's magnum opus, after all she did win a Pulitzer Prize because of it. She also won a Nobel Prize for Literature for many of her other literary works. However, for one to really understand the drive and the reason behind writing such great works of literature that she wrote during her lifetime, it would be imperative to read this book. By doing so, you begin to understand how and why Pearl S. Buck became the great author and humanitarian that she ...more
May 04, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
This very slim volume comprised of a mere 62 pages was originally an article in the Ladies’ Home Journal in 1950. In this small book, Pearl Buck tells a bit of the story of her firstborn child who was born to her when she was living in North China. I say “a bit” because Pearl has a unique style of writing; she does not share details but paints her story in broad strokes. She never mentions her daughter’s name, and oddest of all, she never mentions her husband or the child’s father. (I have read ...more
Dec 26, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
What a marvelous book. Pearl Buck speaks about her only child, a child that was mentally challenged, and through lessons she learned about the child she became a more compassionate person.

This is what I wish to remain with me:

"So by this most sorrowful way I was compelled to tread, I learned respect and reverence for every human mind. It was my child who taught me to understand so clearly that all people are equal in their humanity and that all have the same human rights. None is to be considere
Aug 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This small book (only 62 pages long) delivers an incredibly powerful story. It never deviates from the topic at hand; how to accept, nourish and love a child born with a mental disability. The book was first written as a 1950's article for Ladies Home Journal as a way to educate people and help guide them through a world that didn't offer many solutions or avenues of help. This is Pearl's own story, and is evocatively told as only she could do.

I was saddened by her journey. But her strength of
J.J. Brown
Apr 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This short book is a tragic, first hand account of being the mother of a child who although born normal, became retarded as she grew physically but not mentally during her childhood. This child, we now know, had an inherited genetic disorder called PKU, phenyketonuria, that poisons the brain and causes mental retardation if not treated early during infancy with a special low-protein diet. I myself have two daughters with PKU, both treated successfully in infancy and childhood - because the times ...more
Jan 31, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I didn't know about Pearl S Buck. I had no idea she was a Nobel Prize winning author. I didn't find her writing particularly great. But I think it is the topic and the time. This was decades and decades ago. This is when admitting that you have a mentally challenged child was frowned upon. This is when being half Asian made you unadoptable. In her time, to talk about her daughter was brave and unheard of. Some readers might be horrified to hear that she left her daughter at an institution. But I ...more
Dec 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book front to back. Such an amazing story of a mother's trials with a handicapped child - a must read for all mothers, daughters, for everyone.

"The gift that is hidden inher shows itself in the still ecstasy with which she listens to great symphonies, her lips smiling, her eyes gazing off into what distance I do not know."

Pearl S. Buck is one of my favorite authors and this is an account of her life with her handicapped daughter. Heartbreaking and full of love.

Highly recommend every
Jan 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As a parent of a child that passed away that was special needs I found this book to be amazingly poiniont. The section where her daughter spoke of how Pearl Buck had become so involved in helping others and not spending time with her family spoke so much to me along with what Pearl Buck had to go through in making the decisions that she had to for her daughter with special needs. Everything is such a fine line and it is wonderful to be reminded of this every once in a while so that when deciding ...more
May 26, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I believe this is a good description of what a mothers pain and denial are like when finding out they have a mentally retarded child. I have done lots of research into Pearl S Buck and am lucky to have the ability to visit her house and non profit. I don't always enjoy all her writings but did enjoy this one.
Tara Otegui
Jun 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book has historical significance and is worth the read. I believe that Buck published one of the first positive portrayal of disability, prompting a movement. Janice Walsh's afterword showed an even better portrayal of Carol, showing that Buck opened up this taboo subject at the time and strides could be seen just 20 years later with her own adopted daughter.
Sep 08, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This "book" is beautiful and valuable for what it is, which is a personal essay written for a magazine. If you expect it to be a true memoir of a mother coping with her child's illness, it's a disappointment because of its brevity. Taken as-is, this piece is fascinating.

On one level, it's a mother's account of coming to terms with the reality that her child was mentally retarded, figuring out how to best care for her, and becoming an advocate for other disadvantaged children. In this way, Buck
Apr 25, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Author Pearl Buck won the 1932 Pulitzer Prize for her immensely popular novel "The Good Earth" and six years later was the first woman to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature. "The Child Who Never Grew" was originally published in 1950 as an article in the Ladies Home Journal. It was a short but highly moving read in which Pearl Buck's compassionate nature is front and center.

Her goal in writing this book was to educate and inform her readers about a condition unspoken of in her time -- that of
Pearl Buck had a developmentally delayed daughter in 1920. Carol was born in China where, even at the time, there was no stigma attached. When Carol was 9, Buck made the very difficult decision to put her in an institution.

It was very brave of Buck to write this book. At the time, these children were hidden away and not talked about. The book was originally written in 1950, but this is the 1992 edition, which includes a foreword by James Michener (who knew Buck personally and worked with her on
Mary Williams
Jan 03, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This short book is actually more of a monograph. I thought I was selecting a memoir focused on Buck herself, but the author shares a particular part of her own story, namely, her experiences as mother of a child born with severe developmental delays (as it would now be termed). In 1920 when Buck's daughter Carol was born, little was known about this condition, nor did facilities widely exist to teach and nurture such children appropriately. The book reflects Buck's tireless and long search for a ...more
Feb 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
Pearl S. Buck was driven to provide institutional care for her mentally retarded daughter. That led to her writing so many books. She did a great deal to find homes for children who were fathered by American soilders, who were considered unadoptable. It was strange that she didn't refer to her daughter's name in this book. The last chapter was written by her daughter, Janet, who referred to her sister as Carol. Janet was sent to boarding schools. Her mother was not able to give her children the ...more
This book was well written for what it was. The only reason I decided to pick it up was because my boss for the summer at my library job insisted I read a couple of books by Pearl S. Buck. So, I did!

This book was mainly a book for people who gave birth to "mentally deficient" children as they stated in the book. It was more so almost a guide for parents to follow for best taking care of their special children during the 1950's. The author had personal experience with such circumstances as she ha
Harriett Milnes
A sad book about Pearl Buck's struggle to understand and provide for her daughter who was born with PKU. A child born with PKU today is diagnosed quickly and does not experience mental retardation.

The saddest part was when Pearl Buck decided to work with her daughter every day to teach her to read and write. Then she touched her daughter's hand and realized that Carol's hand was sweating. Her poor daughter was trying her best. Pearl decided then to make sure her daughter was happy. In those day
This was a book that I had to read for my Human Exceptionalities class. It's a small little book at about 90 pages about one woman's true account of having a child with a mental disability. Rather than using technical terminology to describe the child's condition, Buck details her day-to-day accounts and emotions of raising a child with a disability.

This is a truly heartfelt book, and although it was a school book, I would still recommend it. This gives an emotional account from a mother's poin
Paulina Keith
This book was a very inspirational book. It preaches to never give up. This book is about a child that had autism and never grew mentally. She didn't talk throughout almost the whole book. It is written by the childs mother. She never tells her daughters name, for which I respect that. They didn't know anything about the disease because this was in the late 40s. The mother takes her daughter to a preschool evaluation to sign her up and they realized something was wrong. They went to many differe ...more
Jun 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Only to endure is not enough. Endurance can be a harsh and bitter root in one's life, bearing poisonous and gloomy fruit, destroying other lives. Endurance is only the beginning. There must be acceptance and the knowledge that sorrow fully accepted brings its own gifts. For there is an alchemy in sorrow. It can be transmitted into wisdom, which, if it does not bring joy,can yet bring happiness."

"The children who never grow are human beings and they suffer as human beings, inarticulate but deepl
Sep 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Growing up not far from Pearl Buck's home, I have always enjoyed anything connected to her. This little book is one I had not known about previously. It is Buck's struggle accepting the birth of a handicapped child and her attempts to provide for her in adulthood. Since this occurred in the 20s - 50s, it provides a rare insight into the perceptions, educational philosophies and care for mentally handicapped children and adults at this time. I wish I had read it when taking special ed. classes in ...more
Alice Lee
May 30, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
This is the first work by Pearl S. Buck I've read, and throughout this short little book I can't help but be amazed, again and again, by how magnificent and inspiring a woman Pearl is. There were moments so heartbreaking that I felt an urge to cry - I, who is the least maternal person you can find. Anyway. This definitely sparked my interest in her life and her writing. What I found particularly interesting also was the afterword written by Janice Walsh, which cleared up many of the questions Pe ...more
Jan 25, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A slim look into the personal life of Pearl S Buck and her struggle with having a daughter with severe mental deficiencies. Buck lead what seems like an interesting life between the US and China and her journey to understand raising the "child who never grew" is emotional, if not very revelatory in this day and age. Still, reading this serves as a reminder that there is a whole population of people who are all but invisible in our society still exist, and their happiness and well being should be ...more
Written by the mother of a "mentally retarded" child this book takes you through the life of the family and the steps that were taken back in the 1920s when a mother found out that her child is "mentally retarded" including the steps to finding an institution for her daughter.

This book can be used in a highschool classroom to teach about history and the way people were treated, how times have changed, and how the love of a mother never waivers.
Aug 01, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: not many people
Shelves: memoir
Buck's memoir about her time with her developmentally delayed daughter was written to be informative and reflective, but I couldn't get past the feeling it was a big pity party--self-pity, pity for her daughter (who she institutionalized when she was nine), pity for mentally retarded children in general. Disappointing.
Jul 19, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2006, non-fiction
Intrigued by the real life of the great author Pearl S. Buck, I picked up this short book. It was tragic and heartbreaking and I can only imagine the pain of having a mentally disabled child during a time when carried such a stigma. An interesting read for those interested in what raising a mentally challenged child was like before it became socially acceptable to do so at home.
Jun 11, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This story helped to pave the way for science and education to find the cause and treatment for "retarded" children. Now it is out of date. But Pearl Buck and her daughter, Carol, helped to find the cause of Phenylketonuria and sought ways for children to be cared for in a way that made children with disabilities live a decent life.
Jan 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A touching book about Pearl Buck's daughter with Down's Syndrome. Written in 1950, this book has some inaccuracies with regard to the disease as the facts were not known at the time, but these are annotated with updated information. More importantly, the author stressed the need to educate those who suffer from brain diseases - a still relevant book.
doloris erlewine
A mothers prospective of mental retardation

I was not aware of the heartbreak this author experienced with the trial of having a mentally retarded daughter....her journey is one to bring hope for facing this heartbreak rationally and a call for change for research and improvement in this area.
Sep 05, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this and despite the currently not politically correct terminology, she was way ahead of her time in her thinking about people with disabilities. As a mother and a former special education teacher, I really appreciated her sentiments.
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Pearl Sydenstricker Buck was a bestselling and Nobel Prize–winning author. Her classic novel The Good Earth (1931) was awarded a Pulitzer Prize and William Dean Howells Medal. Born in Hillsboro, West Virginia, Buck was the daughter of missionaries and spent much of the first half of her life in China, where many of her books are set. In 1934, civil unrest in China forced Buck back to the United St ...more
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“Sorrow fully accepted brings its own gifts. For there is alchemy in sorrow. It can be transmitted into wisdom, which, if it does not bring joy, can yet bring happiness.” 51 likes
“We learn as much from sorrow as from joy, as much from illness as from health, from handicap as from advantage—and indeed perhaps more.” 7 likes
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