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The Boy Who Loved Too Much: A True Story of Pathological Friendliness

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  746 ratings  ·  111 reviews
The poignant story of a boy’s coming-of-age complicated by Williams syndrome, a genetic disorder that makes people biologically incapable of distrust.

What would it be like to see everyone as a friend? Twelve-year-old Eli D’Angelo has a genetic disorder that obliterates social inhibitions, making him irrepressibly friendly, indiscriminately trusting, and unconditionally lov
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published June 20th 2017 by Simon Schuster
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Kira Yup. I got my copy from the public library. If your local library doesn't have it, see if they can get it through interlibrary loan.

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Evelina | AvalinahsBooks
I have a weakness for non-fiction that talks about tough topics. I spot a book about disability, being different, diversity, suffering, all that stuff... I click buy. Request. Read. That's just who I am.

Come on, does the cover not already capture you? How could someone love too much? How can there be too much love???

(If the GIFs don’t load, read this post here on my blog)

These questions are easily answered within the first few pages of the book. It's not even fictional, alth
Feb 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
The Boy Who Loved Too Much by Jennifer Latson is a true story about a boy living with Williams Syndrome, a genetic disorder. Williams Syndrome is quite rare and causes those affected to be born socially fearless, among a few other ailments.

The book takes you through Eli's childhood up through high school. He's cared for by his mother Gayle and there are many struggles along the way. I was amazed by Gayle's tremendous courage.

Up until now, I didn't know much about Williams Syndrome. I found the
Karen R
Jun 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Before this true story caught my eye, I’d never heard of Williams syndrome. The condition is described as a “cocktail party syndrome that makes people socially fearless”. The human body and brain functions are amazing yet many like me don’t often give them a second thought.

Caused by the absence of “twenty-six genes from one strand of chromosome 7”, this genetic fluke exposes itself in odd ways in what is estimated to be 1 in 10,000 people. Thanks to Jennifer Latson for sharing this very personal
Sep 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction-btr
This is a very emotional challenging book about a syndrome that affects kids and makes them trust everybody, the name of the syndrome is Williams syndrome. The book focuses on Eli (who suffers from that disorder) and all the challenges his mom has to go through to keep him from experiencing pain or rejection, she learns to trust more people around her son and we learn more about the disorder. It is a very emotional charged book as we learn all that Eli has to go through just to be accepted and n ...more
Feb 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The Boy Who Loved Too Much is an astoundingly intimate and in-depth look at the relationship between a single mother and son who has Williams syndrome. As much about Gayle and Eli D'Angelo's personal stories as the science of the genetic disorder itself, the book also explores how individuals with intellectual and other disabilities live in and are treated by institutions in the U.S.

Eli was diagnosed with Williams syndrome at a young age after he failed to reach some developmental goals and pres
Davyne DeSye
May 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Interesting read!

Like almost everybody else, I had never heard of Williams syndrome before reading a review of this book. I was intrigued enough from the review to give it a shot, and I’m glad I did.

Williams syndrome is a genetic disorder that, by causing an increase in a certain chemical’s production, leaves people with the syndrome not just lacking social fear but craving social interaction from anyone and everyone. It does create some medical/physical problems as well and almost inevitably co
Jan 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ebook, nonfiction, science
Edelweiss ebook ARC - publication date June 2017.

Fascinating look at Williams Syndrome - a genetic condition affecting 1 in 10,000 people in which a handful of genes are deleted from a chromosome. Features of the condition include developmental delays and health problems, but also highly social personalities, verbal skills, and musical ability.

Following 12-year-old Eli and his mom Gayle over the course of several years, this is an indictment of our health care system and a society which makes i
Aug 30, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: group-challenges
3.5 stars
Jan 08, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
This is the coming of age story of Eli D'Angelo, but unlike any other of this genre. Eli was born with Williams Syndrome, a genetic disorder that removes any social skepticism. Eli believes everyone is his friend (even dangerous types) and this sadly makes him a target to danger. The chapters alternate between Eli's story and the history/research of Williams Syndrome, which is often called the opposite of autism.

I read an advance copy and was not compensated.
Jan 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This was an interesting book. I'd ever heard of Williams Syndrome before and found the story of Eli fascinating. His mother, Gayle, seems very loving and supportive of his son. It must be challenging to raise a child like Eli. I'm thinking this book will be very insightful for those parents whose children have Williams syndrome and their families, as well.
Jul 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Ugh, the feelings in this one.
The Boy Who Loved Too Much is a story about Williams Syndrome- a genetic disorder that makes people biologically incapable of distrust. They love everybody. They want to hug everybody. They will tell strangers "I love you!" when they see them, and will honestly feel incredibly sad and say "I miss you!" when the stranger leaves. This sounds odd in daily life- and it's hard to see how this genetic disorder can have a negative effect. But this book does a great job of
Aug 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Don't expect this one to be just a story of a boy with William's syndrome and his mom's struggles to raise him and cope with her child's disability. It is more than that. It is also informational and presents the reader with facts, statistics, and discoveries that are relevant to William's syndrome. I liked that it wasn't just informational and that it included Gale's and Eli's experiences, it made it more personal. I just wish I knew how Gale and Eli are doing now. I feel like I've lost touch w ...more
Apr 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
You don't need to be a parent to appreciate the challenges and fears "Gayle" faces when she learns her only child "Eli" has Williams syndrome. The very moment she learns of his rare genetic condition her present and future are permanently changed. Her concerns are countless but they always boil down to her son's future and how he will be cared for when Gayle is gone.

Jennifer Latson does a nice job of telling the mother/son story along with the medical/genetic foundation of the disorder. (I can't
Aug 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
This non-fiction novel follows Gayle and her son, Elie, on their journey to learn to cope and live with a genetic disorder called Willams syndrome. Elie, who is born with this genetic disability, is now 12 years old and this book explains the ups and downs of the syndrome, as well as how the missing chromosome makes him pathologically friendly with anybody.

This was a little gem. Easy to read. Fast paced. Not too focused on the scientific side, nor too much on the social/ethical side.

I liked th
Monica Purwanti
Oct 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
I’d never even heard of Williams syndrome before I started reading this book. Now I cannot stop thinking about it, how extraordinary these people and their families are. I cried a couple of times, not because it was sad but because it was touching.

“A friend was simply someone he’d interacted joyfully with - a definition that encompasses nearly everyone.”

“It’s not quite fair to say that the world would be a better place if everyone had Williams, but it would unquestionably be friendlier.”

“If lov
Dec 10, 2017 rated it liked it
Good book and I am actually interested in this type of thing but the story just didn't grab me. I feel sympathy for people who have Williams Syndrome and especially for their parents and relatives who have to deal with the health and developmental problems these children (and adults) are prone to. I just wasn't interested enough to follow this story all the way to the main character's high school graduation. I think this story would be better told in an article or even a series of two or three a ...more
Aug 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017
This book interested me because I had a student with Williams syndrome. Watching her, at 3, interact with everyone at full excitement was adorable, but also left us wondering and scared for her future. It was interesting to read about a middle schooler, how that exuberance might develop as she ages. This was a good book. I'm going to recommend it to parents in my class (I teach preschool disabilities).
Jan 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a very well written book for the layman, beautifully laid out from the point of view of the parent, but including research that is easy to understand. Fascinating! I think I had only heard of Williams Syndrome as a vague reference or occasional footnote while researching autism and/or Downs Syndrome.
Amy Turner
Aug 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
I've been reading a lot about neurodivergent people. This one caught my eye with the phrase "pathologicical friendliness" which reminds me of my dog Sasha. Loving everyone in sight works better for a dog than for a child with other disabilities. I'm a sucker for case studies, and this was a good one.
Kaitlyn lovell
I’m pretty sure my book had a misprint in the beginning which was confusing but once it got to the actual book I enjoyed it. I liked learning about Williams syndrome and the book was super informational. Well written and the stories of Eli’s life made the book move fast.
Oct 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Eli was born with Williams Syndrome, which I knew nothing about. It's the story of Eli and his Mom. It's a touching story of a boy navigating life and school with this genetic disorder and his Mom wanting to protect him from the world. Eli's disorder makes him want to hug and talk to everyone-which becomes more of an issue when he hits puberty. There is a lot of genetic information which was a little tedious at times, but the personal stories about Eli made this book.
Rohan Khadilkar
Aug 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A world of blind faith & love that has "no boundaries". A genetic disorder to love blindly. The boy who loved too much makes for an excellent read. Its an intimate account of the relationship between a mother and her specially-abled son. ...more
Sep 05, 2018 rated it liked it
I enjoyed the topic, and learning more about it, but felt that there was too much scientific data and not enough of Eli and Gayle's story. I felt like it was marketed as more of a story, but then found myself digging through heavy scientific information. I did enjoy the second half more than the first. Glad I finished it, just wish it had been a little more balanced.
Feb 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, science
I initially shelved this in "science." But, it really isn't. And perhaps had I not had the expectation of there being a more scientific approach to the story, I might have loved it more. First and foremost, it is a biography of Eli and his mother.

As a story of Eli, it's slightly heart wrenching and quite a fast read. My biggest complaint was that the story did not (and could not due to his actual age) follow Eli into adulthood. The story felt unfinished. I would not have expected a birth to deat
Warren-Newport Public Library
May 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Williams syndrome is a rare disorder caused by the deletion of twenty-six genes from chromosome 7. People with this disorder have a distinctive appearance and intellectual disabilities alongside some extraordinary gifts, including remarkable friendliness and empathy towards others. Some even call it "the opposite of autism".

Writer Jennifer Latson spent months with Eli D'Angelo, who has Williams syndrome, and his mother Gayle. The result is a book that blends scientific reportage with tales of th
Sep 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is an incredibly well-written story about a boy with Williams Syndrome and his mother who only wants what is best for him, and trying to figure out how to achieve it in a world that may not be as receptive of him. It is equal parts narrative non-fiction, based on a real-life family and their obstacles in dealing with a rare disorder, and equal parts science in the genetic basis of the disorder as well as its history. Anyone with any interest in genetics, in various mental disabilities, or s ...more
May 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a well written book about a rare genetic disorder called "Williams syndrome." The book is narrative driven, and involved the real life story of Gayle and her son Eli, who has Williams. I feel like not only did I gain an understanding of what the condition is like, I also witnessed the power of love and compassion. It was rather surprising that my tears wouldn't stop as I was reading the last few chapters of the book while on the commuter train. I was not feeling sad or sorry for Eli, ins ...more
Jul 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! Jennifer Latson did a great job alternating between the story of Eli, who has William's syndrome, and DNA science. Her writing style kept me engaged completely from the beginning to the end. Eli's story is heartwarming and the science outlined is amazing. Latson brings all aspects of the genetic variation to life and helps you understand the current state of DNA research into rare syndromes. Since William's is often referred to as the opposite of Autism, readers interested in ...more
May 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read for book club.

I had not even heard of Williams syndrome before this book, which was a very realistic (I think, speaking from the outside) portrayal of life bringing up a teenager with special needs. The researcher presented most chapters from Gayle's perspective, but in the third person, which took a bit of getting used to: this is a non-fiction book, but she was recreating scenes Gayle must have described to her.

The science chapters were beyond both my level of understanding and, frankly,
Vanessa Jones
Jun 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A book every parent should read. I found myself in tears quite often. Every parent wants the 'best' for their child, so it is unimaginable being told the most your child may be able to do is wash dishes (if that). But, her son is SO happy about EVERYTHING. So, if he's happy, why shouldn't she be happy? It's quite the conundrum, and a very interesting look into Wilson's syndrome. Although nothing is held back in this book, it is a quick read.
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“All of us risk being taken advantage of to some degree, but what would it be like to go through life this irremediably vulnerable, biologically unable to peel your heart from your sleeve and lock it safely inside?” 1 likes
“The cruel irony of the disorder is that the very people who crave social connection the most aren't well adapted to get it. Their insatiable drive to connect is, in itself, what ultimately pushes people away.” 0 likes
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