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The Shaming of the Strong

4.63  ·  Rating details ·  132 ratings  ·  52 reviews
The book opens with the happy news of a new member of the Williams family. Sarah's two young daughters are excited, as is her own mother (Jennifer Rees Larcombe). But the happiness is shortlived, as the scan at the hospital reveals that the baby has a condition which will mean severe skeletal deformity. Birth will be fatal.Sarah and husband Paul decide to go to full term a ...more
Paperback, 176 pages
Published August 1st 2006 by Kingsway Communications (first published August 30th 2005)
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4.63  · 
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 ·  132 ratings  ·  52 reviews

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Jan 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
Summary: A personal narrative of a couple facing a pre-natal diagnosis of fatal birth defects, their decision to carry their daughter to term, their process with family and friends, and the larger issues their own decision raised for them.

Sarah Williams had struggled through a horrendous pregnancy of nausea, even as her children anticipated a younger sibling. A routine, twenty-week pre-natal screening turns suddenly serious. A specialist diagnoses thanatophoric dysplasia, a skeletal deformity re
Jenelle Kiers
Sep 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I read this book shortly after losing my own daughter to the same skeletal deformation that Sarah lost hers to. This book helped me cope with my grief, and articulate my feelings at the time. I would recommend it to everyone, especially those who have been touched by this type of heart break.
Thank you Sarah for this incredible gift.
Josh Wilhelm
Feb 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am consistently guilty of making all sorts of assumptions about people which (thankfully!) end up being almost entirely wrong. I have found the best remedy to my preconceived errors to be listening to a person’s story. "Perfectly Human: Nine Months with Cerian" by Sarah Williams has proved no exception.
Two years ago I had the great pleasure of taking a course taught by Sarah Williams, and to this day I maintain that she is certainly one of, if not, the best teachers I have ever had. A brillia
Kara Larson
What a gorgeously written memoir of the struggles of a Christian family who walked through 9 months of a hard pregnancy with a child with a fatal genetic abnormality teaching us all God’s definition of humanity. This is an account of how to find God in the pain and not in the avoidance of it.

I wept often reading this book not only for the hurt and pain described by this mother who lost her baby but also in remembrance of losing our own baby girl at 20 weeks. It was precious to read words that re
Peter Rapp
Jan 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a moving tribute to the beauty of unborn human life made whole through unconditional love. The story of how and why baby Cerian was, which closely mirrors a similar story in my own life, offers one of the strongest challenges to the merely "functionalist" perspective of what makes us human. To be human is not fundamentally to be able to will/act/think/perform/do. To be human is to love and be loved by God.
Oct 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Williams has written a touching memoir of pregnancy and the meaning of personhood. She was teaching history at Oxford. She and her husband had two young daughters when she found out she was pregnant. Then an ultrasound and the news of a lethal skeletal deformity. They were told the child would not live and a decision had to be made. She was determined. She would carry the baby as long as possible.

Williams shares the shock, her feelings, dealing with doctors, her interactions with well meaning Ch
Nov 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sarah Williams' Perfectly Human: Nine Months with Cerian recounts the heartbreaking story of her decision to take her pregnancy to term even though her child had skeletal dysplasia. When her doctors told her the birth would "certainly result in [the child's] death", Williams, already raising two daughters and teaching history at the University of Oxford, remained firm in her decision to go to term with her pregnancy. She was supported by her husband, family, and community. She also felt compelle ...more
Literary Soirée
PERFECTLY HUMAN: NINE MONTHS WITH CERIAN is a heartbreakingly beautiful book about author Sarah Williams’ decision to carry her baby with lethal skeletal dysplasia to term. Birth with this condition is fatal for the child.

Sarah is happily married and teaching history at the University of Oxford — with academic credentials, success, and knowledge — but it took her fatally disabled unborn child to teach her humbling humanity.

She and her husband find themselves having to explain their decision to
Aug 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I did not want to read this book. I thought the subject matter was too tough and it would be too painful to read. While the subject matter is hard, it is a beautifully written book. I went through a roller coaster of emotions while reading it, but the story line was very engaging and kept pulling me back in. When one of the girls asked if she could always love the baby even when it died, I shed a few tears. The scene in the hospital where Sarah and Wren felt God’s presence in the room coming to ...more
Michael Philliber
Someone from church loaned me a copy right after we lost a grandson at birth. I wasn't sure if I could read it, and so waited four weeks. I was finally able to pick it up, and wept through much of the tale. Though "Perfectly Human" was originally written in 2005 as "The Shaming of the Strong" it was been reworked in 2018 and added to for this edition. Though I cried through much of the material, I can wholeheartedly say it is worth the read, even if you have lost a child or just received news th ...more
Sep 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Review: Perfectly Human: Nine Months With Cerian by Sarah C. Williams. 4.5★'s

This was a sad emotional true story and educating to others who decide to have a child and during the pregnancy they have a tremendous decision to make. The book was well written and the all the family characters emotions will send a chill through you. Sarah told her family’s issue but as she narrated I could feel how hard it was to relate to the reader what she and her family went through. It was like an emotional roll
Emma Shaw
Sep 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thank you to NetGalley, Plough Publishing and Sarah C. Williams for the chance to read this novel.

This true story begins with the welcome news of a new member of the Williams family. But the happiness is short-lived, as a hospital scan reveals a lethal skeletal dysplasia. Birth will be fatal.

Sarah and Paul decide to carry the baby to term, a decision that shocks medical staff and Sarah’s professional colleagues. Sarah and Paul find themselves having to defend their child’s dignity and worth agai
Nov 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There’s a book popping up on lots of “Best of 2018” lists called Everything Happens for a Reason (And Other Lies I’ve Loved) by Kate Bowler. I had the privilege of hearing Kate Bowler, professor at Duke Divinity School, tell her story at the Festival of Faith and Writing this spring. Basically, her story is this: after devoting her academic research to explaining the “prosperity gospel” phenomenon and unpacking with compassion the allure of the promises made in prosperity-centered churches, Bowl ...more
Oct 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What would you do if you discovered your unborn child would not survive life beyond the womb?

For Sarah C. Williams and her husband Paul, the decision to carry their severely deformed daughter to term comes without much consideration for the alternative - termination. Sarah rejects advice from medical professionals and instead chooses to protect and love the tiny human within her for as long as possible.

Sarah's memoir is a vulnerable, honest, and heartbreaking account of her 9 Months with Cerian.
Oct 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sarah is pregnant with her third child. Her husband and two daughters are happy and can’t wait for the baby to be born. At her 20 week ultrasound, there is the discovery of a severe skeletal disorder that means neonatal death or stillbirth. She decides to carry the child full term with her husband, her daughters and community support. They do everything possible to support this child should she be the 1% that survive. This isn’t a grief memoir. It’s about the journey to decide and give birth to ...more
I read this in one day (it’s only 160 pages) and it moved me to tears multiple times. The memoir of a family who discovers their unborn daughter is severely deformed and will not survive her birth but ultimately decide to carry her to term. It was sad, yes, but the tears came also from the beautiful story of how the mother struggled with peace in the midst of fear, her testimony of how God loved and cared for their entire family and her understanding of what it means to love the vulnerable, weak ...more
Michelle Ule
Mar 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I cried while I read this beautiful book. My family has been through this same experience, wondering how to honor and love a child you'll never raise.

Williams tells a searing story of love, loss, and the inhumanity of bureaucrats who think they know best what to do with your child (terminate). With all the other emotions running through a woman's pregnant heart, pushing her to abort is the worst thing to encounter.

All that being said, recognizing that the best way you can parent a child who wil
Rabecca Witzke
Aug 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A beautifully written book on what it means to be human as seen through the eyes of a bereaved mother. I cried continually throughout this book and my heart felt connected to the author as I too, am a mother. The way Sarah continues to pray and trust God even with the inevitable death of her daughter looming in the future is utterly inspiring. Despite these incredibly difficult circumstances, the Williams family grows in their faith and understanding of God, death and humanity in this hard-to-pu ...more
Jan 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was a blessing to me as I wrestled with the stillbirth of my own daughter. Sarah Williams' work is large part memoir, with just the right amount of ethical and theological reflections to be impactful without appearing preachy.

In additional to being an emotionally charged and beautifully written account, it is also one of the strongest arguments for the sanctify of unborn life I have read. She is honest in her wrestling with the encouragement to terminate the pregnancy, but without sha
Elaine Johnson
Jul 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
A thought provoking look at the joy of being pregnant followed by the heartache of learning that the baby isn't going to survive. It is a joy in how the family embraces the unborn child and eventually grieves the loss.
The book makes you wonder what you would choose to do if faced with the same circumstances.

I couldn't put the book down.
Jeff Jeffers
Mar 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A profound truth

I have no words to express the depth and width of truths shared through this book. A vitally important look at our humanity and value through God's eyes, independent of our health, capability or accomplishments.

Thank you, Mrs Williams, for sharing the story of your daughter's brief life and lasting impact.
A beautiful book. While there's no missing the argument Sarah makes about society's attitudes toward its weakest members, this is above all else a deeply honest and gracious story about God's presence in a family's grief. Highly recommended.
Darrin Niday
Dec 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
First of all this book was good, heartbreaking and even made me cry. Who would not while reading this!? But I didn't expect the many bible verses and the Christian feel to this book, not being religious at all I didn't enjoy these parts.
Dec 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: christianity
A sweet, hard, challenging memoir on what it means to be human. Thought the epilogue in particular brought up some interesting thoughts and questions about our concept of what makes a human life valuable.
Mar 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely moving.
Heather Nicol
Jan 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Wow. Could hardly put this book down. What an incredible account of a terrible experience. A strong, inspirational family
Dec 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Profoundly moving, incredible reverence for life and God's plan.
C.E. Hart
Dec 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a heartbreaking and memorable story of life and love. It’s a short read that makes a long-lasting impact.
Jan 18, 2019 rated it liked it
A very touching account of a woman grieving the loss of her baby and finding value in the God-reality of her baby’s life, though short and compromised by the world’s standards.
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Sarah C. Williams trained as a historian at the University of Oxford, where she subsequently taught British and European political and cultural history. After seventeen years at Oxford, in 2005 she moved with her family to Vancouver, Canada, where she taught history at Regent College.

Today Williams lives with her husband Paul in the Cotswolds, close to the city of Oxford, where she continues her
“During the nine months I carried Cerian, God came close to me again unexpectedly, wild and beautiful, good and gracious. I touched his presence as I carried Cerian and as a result I realized that underneath all my other longings lay an aching desire for God himself and for his love. Cerian shamed my strength, and in her weakness and vulnerability, she showed me a way of intimacy. The beauty and completeness of her personhood nullified the value system to which I had subscribed for so long.” 0 likes
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