Thursday, September 11, 2008

Blue Sky July by Nia Wyn

Blue Sky July: A Mother's Story of Hope and Healing by Nia Wyn
U.S. Release: August, 2008
197 pages, incl. epilogue

Sam at the corner shop tells me that in Pakistan, a household that has a disabled child is thought to be blessed.

He says it when I'm buying milk over the counter, Joe in a pale blue papoose on my chest.

He looks straight into my eyes and says: "You've been so lucky, there isn't the medicine in Pakistan to save kids like him -- you'd have lost him."

Sam might have saved my life today.

I guess it's like when you're dying;
you see a light
unless you don't.

As I walk back home, Sam's words pierce the cloud between my heart and the sun.

I hardly know Sam.
He barely knows me.

--pp. 24-25 of Advance Uncorrected Proofs (changes may have been made)

As we pass the running children who hold up their heads so easily, I realize miracles are so commonplace we barely recognize them anymore, and near the circles of mothers anxiously comparing milestones at the school gates, I see how we live in a time where
normal is never enough,
and we are never full.

Joe gives me insights I could never have understood without him
and he gives me heartbreak.
To separate these two responses would be impossible. He is equally
beautiful and terrifying.

p 42. of Advanced Uncorrected Proof

I just whipped through this book and felt compelled to immediately sit down to review it, Blue Sky July is so moving. I'm going to skip the usual format. Blue Sky July is a memoir told by the mother of a child diagnosed with severe cerebral palsy. At birth, Joe appeared healthy and normal. But, then something went wrong and Nia Wyn knew, despite doctors' reassurances. After a brain scan, Nia and her husband Alex were told that Joe's brain damage was so severe that he would never walk, talk, hear, see or even know they were there.

Instead of just giving in to the diagnosis, Nia and Alex searched for answers and immediately began exhausting rounds of therapy and exercises in which they stimulated Joe by tapping on him, moving his arms and legs, flashing lights on and off, singing and talking to him, taking him to oxygen treatments and healers. Eventually, the fact that their entire life revolved around treatment of Joe became too much for Alex and he moved out. But, Nia refused to give up hope. And, then, the tiniest ray of light appeared when Joe reached out and touched her.

Blue Sky July describes the first seven years of Joe's life, from Nia's blissful pregnancy to the miraculous changes in a child who didn't move or respond to light, sound or touch. I can't seem to come up with the right words to describe this book; it's just amazing. I highly, highly recommend it, particularly to anyone who is grasping for hope.

Now reading . . .

Just one book?! Yes, but that won't last long. I'm going to dig back into Chameleon, Butterfly, Dragonfly, this afternoon. It was set aside so I could finish The Last Queen, yesterday, and then I picked up Blue Sky July and couldn't put it down. I'm sure I'll add in a novel, today.

Stupid sidebar . . .

Still can't alter it. This is a come-and-go problem. Sometimes a change of browser works. Sometimes switching to another computer does the trick. Sometimes nothing helps at all and I'm just stuck. This sometime I'm in stuck mode; it's been going on for weeks. I'll just have to keep my reading updates limited to the text of my posts, for now.

Husband's favorite photo from last week's swim meet:

Still need to review two books: High Altitude Leadership by Chris Warner & Don Schmincke and Eleanor Rigby by Douglas Coupland.

Got tagged for a couple of blog awards and, once again, I've broken the pattern. I can't even seem to locate the posts, now, so I must apologize and say "Thanks", at once, to those who have kindly tagged me. I'll try very hard to keep up with passing on blog awards, in the future. I've really dropped the ball, in the past year.

With apologies to Texas: Thank you to those who chanted with me, causing Ike to jog west. And, to those in Texas, I am wishing a soft landing, a fizzled hurricane, and that Ike will move as quickly as possible in order to reduce the chances of flooding. Best to those in Lousiana, and anywhere else effected by the hurricane, as well.

Gotta go. Things to do and all that lot. Have a peachy day!

Bookfool, who has simply got to quit putting off the housework, period.


  1. Anonymous5:58 PM

    This sounds like an amazing book. I am adding it to my TBR list.
    Thanks for the great review!

  2. Wow. Blue Sky July sounds like an incredible book. Not sure I could read it, but your review makes it sound amazing.

    You said:

    Stupid sidebar . . .

    Still can't alter it. This is a come-and-go problem. Sometimes a change of browser works. Sometimes switching to another computer does the trick. Sometimes nothing helps at all and I'm just stuck.

    Ah, maybe I should thank my lucky stars I stuck with Classic Blogger. I've learned enough HTML to alter my sidebar all on my own. Now if I could only figure out the header code...

    Have a great weekend. We're getting tons of rain, but nothing like TX will get tomorrow, eh?

  3. Oh this book sounds good - I am putting it on my list, and off to check the library website to see if it has a bazillion holds.

  4. Amy,

    It totally blew me away. I was sobbing at the end of the book -- sooo moving what the love of a mother can do!!!


    You might have a bit of trouble with the book, but it's truly an amazing story. One of the things I didn't mention was a comment that she made about someone telling her that special children are born to special mothers. Her husband reflected on all those "special children" he saw staring at the ceiling in orphanages in other countries. It's a real stop-in-your-tracks moment, just realizing that only a fraction of special needs children have a fighting chance to grow beyond their disabilities.

    Anyway . . . I probably could change the sidebar with HTML if I wanted to (I think that option is still available -- not certain, but I think so). I'm trying to limit my time on the blog, though. If I can't change it fast, forget it. I'll try again, later!

    Yeah, Texas is about to get socked. We've got Texas refugees, already.


    It's an August release (I just happened across an ARC on a "free books" cart at our library -- am I lucky, or what?) so you might have a wait ahead of you, but it's worth it. It is truly an awesome story.

  5. Hey we were on the same wavelength - I finished this book on the weekend. It was so moving wasn't it? What I found interesting though was that in the end more than said I just felt so hopeful. I know there's no cure but she seemed to be writing from a place of peace if that makes sense.

    I think what was most heartbreaking to me was when I read about her friends who also had babies at the same time as her and their children were fine. I can't imagine how that must have felt for her to know, that that could have easily been her child. I've not seen this one at the bookstores so I hope it gets noticed.

  6. Iliana,

    I just noticed you also read the book and left a comment at your post! I understand that statement completely: "she seemed to be writing from a place of peace." Exactly. It was incredibly moving and uplifting -- and so amazing what she was willing to do, day and night, to help her son.

    Yes, the fact that she had friends with healthy babies jumped out at me, too. It must have been so painful (I'm sure it still is) seeing their growth and progress.

    I haven't been to a bookstore, lately, so I haven't seen it on the shelves, either. I got lucky on this one. It was on a cart full of free ARCs my library was giving away. It was apparently a big hit in the UK, and I agree -- it deserves the attention and I hope it gets a huge audience in the US, as well.

  7. The Blue Sky book sounds good. Now I want to read it to compare with one I read many, many years ago called Karen- also about a child with cerebal palsy, written by the mother. Mary Killilea is the author. Have you heard of it?

  8. Jeane,

    Blue Sky July is great. I had no idea what I was getting into, when I opened it up. It was just a matter of being in a mood for a memoir, but I discovered quickly that it was going to be a really terrific read. I've heard of Karen, but I've never read it. It was published a long time ago, wasn't it? Like the 70's? Not sure I never knew what it was about! Thanks for mentioning it!

  9. This story sounds heartbreaking and moving at the same time. I'm glad you wrote about it.

    Stay safe. The blizzards we get up here are nothing like this terrible hurricaines.

  10. Tara,

    It is heartbreaking and moving, but it's infused with hope. I thought it was a very, very uplifting read.

    Thanks, I think we're well out of the zone, here -- we're just supposed to get tropical storm winds and maybe rain. We'll see! I've been through tornadoes, blizzards and hurricanes and I have to say I think hurricanes are the worst. The aftermath from Katrina was just unbelievable. I'd be happy to move a few hundred miles closer to the middle of the country!!! :)


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