2 out of 4 stars
Share This Review
Caring for a loved one with physical and mental challenges is a labor of love that most of us will never experience in our lives. For Maria B. Russell, it was her son Mark (born with an abnormal and underdeveloped brain) that taught her and her family so much more than they could have ever thought possible. A Beautiful Path: Me, You takes the reader on an emotional tour of the pain, hope, and transformation that has come from having a child with special needs.
Mark's condition was one-in-a-million; he was born with one side of his brain larger than the other. Mark nearly died in infancy, and endured a continuous barrage of seizures for months on end before undergoing a left hemispherectomy (removing the left side of the brain) at just eleven months old, making him the first baby to have the complex surgery. That procedure was just the beginning of a lengthy list of subsequent surgeries and extensive therapies that would become a staple part of Mark’s life. Although the book goes into great detail about Mark's condition and treatments, it equally reveals the family's strength and hope through it all. Choosing to lean on each other and learning to find joy and peace in the simplest of life’s experiences was an unforeseen benefit of having Mark in the family.
There is much to appreciate in this story, but my favorite part is the sense of humility and wisdom with which it was written. Russell and her family were united in love because of the light Mark brought just by being himself. Russell describes her son as the embodiment of selflessness and grace, living each day to the fullest with a joy that radiates outward to all those lucky enough to meet him. As a devout Catholic, Russell relied heavily on her faith in God, and provides plenty of examples of answered prayers. Russell gives all the credit of her blessed life to those around her, but clearly her positive attitude and grateful heart are key ingredients to her joy.
The book is not without flaws, both in editing and writing style, including grammatical errors and intermittent changes in tense. However, I feel that focusing on those things would be to miss the big picture of the book's purpose; it was clearly written to give hope to those who are faced with hardships. The book’s eloquent message is that sometimes we are faced with the unimaginable, but we do not have to be defined by it, and it may in fact turn out to be a blessing beyond our greatest imagining. This book is a beautiful tribute from a mother to the son that has opened her heart in unexpected ways. To make the story even more personal, Russell includes several family photos throughout Mark’s childhood.
I would recommend this book to individuals that work with or care for people with special needs, especially parents with a child with severe physical/mental challenges. Professional editing is recommended, which would bump this book up another star. In the meantime, I rate this heartfelt memoir 2 out of 4 stars.
A Beautiful Path: Me, You
View: on Bookshelves
Like SABRADLEY's review? Post a comment saying so!