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Listen To Me: How My Down Syndrome Brother Saved My Life


Loved it! 😍

A highly readable, heartfelt memoir of how the author's life was powerfully and profoundly influenced by her Down syndrome brother, Bruce.

This book opens in August 2020 as the author watches the original Star Trek TV series with her Down Syndrome brother. “Brucie” has been diagnosed with kidney disease and pancreatic cancer at age fifty-three.

The rest of the book is a retrospective on Bruce’s life and the impact he had on not just the author but on many others as well.

In the Introduction, the author looks back to August 1967 and Bruce’s birth. With her father devastated by Bruce’s condition and her mother in denial, the author describes what follows as “the beginning of the end of our (she and her brother, David) parental safety net.” She’s barely thirteen years old.

Intent on becoming a veterinarian, the author’s life mission changes from saving animals to saving Bruce and children like him. While focusing on Bruce’s life and his unique challenges, the narrative also touches on family interactions and events such as bar and bat mitzvahs, weddings, graduations, and later, trips to the hospital for Bruce as his health deteriorates. Through it all, Bruce remains a “source of heartache and inspiration.”

The narrative starts out sounding bitter and somewhat bellicose. The author is more or less mad at the world in general and her parents in particular. I almost ejected at this point. But I decided to give it a second chance.

I’m glad I did.

As the intertwined life stories of the author and her brother Bruce emerge, the story takes on a new tone. Bitterness and rancor are replaced with a gentle kind of mellowness and a roaring-fire-on-a-cold-winter-day kind of warmth. This is underscored when the author writes that her plans for Bruce were “to open and enrich his world.” In the end, however, she realizes how being with Bruce “accomplished so much more.” She realizes how this “sweet small man” and “Brucie’s" capacity to love and to “just go on because there was no other choice” profoundly influenced her life. And how Bruce opened and enriched her world.

Oh, and the title? You’ll have to read the book for yourself to figure that one out.

Flavored with gentle humor and tongue-in-cheek wit, Listen to Me isn’t a long read. At about 30,000 words, you can finish it in an afternoon. But the reflections and insights will reverberate much longer.

In the closing pages of the final chapter, Reflections: My Final Chat With God, the author circles back to her original question about why God gave her Bruce. I’d bring tissue ‘fize you. Cuz this one’s a keeper.

Reviewed by

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About the author

Lynne graduated from the Pennsylvania State University with a degree in Fashion Merchandising, returning to receive her educational degrees. A retired educator and Administrator, she has secretly been a writer and poet her whole life. Lynne now lives in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, and Vail, CO view profile

Published on August 19, 2021

30000 words

Genre: Biographies & Memoirs

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