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Friday, 31 October 2014

The Unfinished Child by Theresa Shea

The Unfinished ChildThe Unfinished Child by Theresa Shea
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When I approached the author to ask if I could read and review this book [cheeky I know] I was surprised to have got a reply to arrange for my copy. I rather it in ebook, so that was arranged and although I had four books urgent ahead of it, I couldn't wait to read it.

hubby went down with the flu
I did.

I finally got around to starting it. As soon as I was on chapter two I was glued. I love a book that tackles hard topics that may get negative feedback as well as positive feedback. Why do I say this? Because they are emotive topics that we all have views on, serious, personal, emotional views, feelings.

Swing back to the 1940's/1950's if you can. Down syndrome wasn't always named that, it went by the name of Mongoloid. Just that word 'Mongoloid' sends shivers down my spine.

I love, love, love when authors "dare a topic" a moral topic, a dilemma where the reader gets so involved, and yes! That was me, I was so involved with all these women in this book, actually, right down to the guys too.

Margaret gives birth to a daughter who shockingly has Mongoloid. It is recommended that her daughter is institutionalised as it was best 'all round' and the 'normal' thing to do. Taking in context of history, that would be the usual procedure as children with this condition weren't expected to live beyond a certain age.

Of course, the advancement on Downs syndrome now is such that we know more about it, but if we can realize that we are not judging the contents of this story on now, this present time in history, we are jumping back many years when ignorance was such [as we see in this story] where most [if not all] were treated no more like human beings than kept defects of society.

I've read many of the reviews and understand fully when people will judge this book one way or another, and rightfully so. I too have Downs syndrome in my family but a far distant cousin. Children born with DS, parents were not encouraged to bring them home and given all the delights and positives of raising such a special needs child. Remember, we are talking many years ago.

When her baby was taken away from her and she subsequently went on to raise more children, she never forgot Caroline. When she started to visit her once per month taking a red rose, that touched my heart. The support for Margaret just wasn't there at that time in history.

The medical ignorance came out in this book when Caroline was pregnant, by whom? how? and no one suspected until her Mother was visiting one month and stormed into the office.
This explained to me how far we have come in terms of DS.

We have Marie MacPherson, 39, she already has two healthy children and finds herself unexpectedly pregnant.
Something about her pregnancy doesn't feel right. We learn how she finds herself carrying a DS child.

The author is now very brave as she brings this up to date with the medical tests that can be done to ascertain if a Mother is carrying a Down syndrome child. This now opens up a whole new ball game of morals for us readers. Should she keep the child? should she abort it?

Regardlesss of my reactions to any of this, I put them aside and carried on reading, trying to put myself into a position appertaining to this moral dilemma. I knew what I would do. Did I? Do you?
Maybe you would like to 'think' you would do this or do that. Maybe you already had this happen in your life and have the blessings of giving birth to a DS child. Remember, you get support. There is more knowledge now than ever before on how to help gain the best for your child.

Yes there are aspects in this book where I wondered where Theresa Shea would go next.
When we bring in Elizabeth who is her best friend, we have now another side to it all.

Elizabeth has had, and still is having problems getting pregnant, while there is her best friend with two smashing children. The heartache that Elizabeth goes through with Ron in trying to achieve something that should be so normal, so natural, not happening it breaks Elizabeths heart and causes a breakdown between Ron and hers marriage for a time.

But what when she finds out her best friend is pregnant again? What when she finds out the child has DS. What if she finds her best friend is going to have an abortion?

This is one super, powerful storyline that will keep you on the edge of your emotions, you will have your own thoughts on the morals of this story, you own dilemmas at choices. You would scream "no no no, I would never do that"
You may be adamant and stand firm and say "What on earth was this author thinking when she made this character say this or do that"

Whatever your feelings, whatever your thoughts, this author DONE IT yes, she DID IT, yes SHE PULLED IT OFF, why? Because these are topics, these are dilemmas, these are heart crunching, heart rending, break your heart emotive topics that we all feel strongly about. If she's made you react, she has DONE IT, she DID IT, she PULLED IT OFF.

Can't wait for book two!

Finalist for the Alberta Book Awards' Georges Bugnet Award for Fiction, 2014.

Finalist for The Alberta Readers' Choice Award 2014.

Finalist in the BookBundlz "Book Pick" contest 2013.

A word-of-mouth bestseller (now in its third printing), Theresa Shea's first book explores female friendships, prenatal testing, infertility, and Down syndrome. Shea tackles a complex moral issue with great sensitivity. This is a must read not only for parents in the Down syndrome community but for all parents, and for anyone who appreciates masterful story-telling.

When Marie MacPherson, a mother of two, finds herself unexpectedly pregnant at thirty-nine, she feels guilty. Her best friend, Elizabeth, has never been able to conceive, despite years of fertility treatments. Marie's dilemma is further complicated when she becomes convinced something is wrong with her baby. She then enters the world of genetic testing and is entirely unprepared for the decision that lies ahead.

Intertwined throughout the novel is the story of Margaret, who gave birth to a daughter with Down syndrome in 1947, when such infants were defined as "unfinished" children. As the novel shifts back and forth through the decades, the lives of the three women converge, and the story speeds to an unexpected conclusion.

With skill and poise, debut novelist Theresa Shea dramatically explores society's changing views of Down syndrome over the past sixty years. The story offers an unflinching and compassionate history of the treatment of people with Down syndrome and their struggle for basic human rights. Ultimately, The Unfinished Child is an unforgettable and inspiring tale about the mysterious and complex bonds of family, friendship, and motherhood

View all my reviews

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