Friday, August 14, 2009

Book Review: I Just Am

I Just Am by Bryan and Tom Lambke

"What is normal? Why label me at all? I am not perfect. Are you?"

Written by Bryan Lambke, a 23-year old (when the book was published in 2006) who has Down syndrome, and his father, Tom Lambke, who is one of his greatest advocates. Tom Lambke also authored Spirit, Courage and Resolve...a Special Olympics Athlete's Road to Gold. That's on my list of books I'd like to read.

The book has an eye-opening introduction written by Cheryl Rogers-Barnett, daughter of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. Her sister, Robin Elizabeth was born in 1950, when "Mongoloid" was an accepted term, but she didn't make it past her 2nd birthday due to health problems. I say it's eye-opening because it is a glimpse into what it was truly like for babies born in the 1950's told by someone who experienced it first-hand. She quotes doctors saying "Don't take her home, she will never recognize you, she will never live past her 20th birthday, don't get attached, getting attached will just break your heart."

I am immensely grateful I did not hear those crushing words when Matthew was born. There still is a lot of work to be done as far as spreading awareness of Down syndrome, but it seems like it's a better world today for individuals with Down syndrome (in the US, not sure about other countries) than it was in 1950.

The authors' photos and words speak volumes of how we are more alike than different. Bryan's poignant narration of how he lives his life highlights the fact that despite outward differences, we all enjoy having friends, experience a range of emotions, and basically can have the same chances and choices in life, whether one has Down syndrome or not.

Not a children's book, but I think kids in high school and older would benefit from reading this. The book also has a few condensed sections of key facts about Down syndrome and language guidelines on how to correctly refer to someone who has Down syndrome. Overall, it delivers just the right dose of information to those who know nothing or very little about Down syndrome.

Have you read it? What do you think?

Possibly related post:
Remember You're Unique, Just Like Everyone Else


Tina said...

So glad you found my have an incredibly cute son. Yes we have an wonderful online support system and I am so grateful for it.
I haven't read this book, but thanks for posting on it I shall definately try and see if I can get hold of it.
Will be following your blog and look forward to your next post :)

Lisa said...

Thanks for this, Ria. I'm going to add this to my to-read list.

Beth said...

I haven't read "I Just Am", but will soon. I am always looking for non-fiction books for siblings of a newly diagnosed baby. I always hope to find a good book covering a scientific explanation of Down syndrome and a few examples of the reality of Ds for siblings who are ages 7-12. It seems that there are books for every other age level, yet there are so many siblings in this age group. I might have to write it myself.

I read Dale Evan's book "Angel Unaware" which is written from Robin's point of view (the baby). I didn't like it (I think Hannah was about 2 at the time, and it wasn't the kind of book I needed just then). I think I might take a look again.

Thanks for spotlighting Bryan Lambke's book!

Leslie said...

I haven't read this book, but appreciate hearing your thoughtful review.

I too am so glad that things are better today than they were no so very long ago. And you are right - in the US and not always in other countries (yet, I hope).


evrfwd said...

love your book reviews! thanks for posting them. i haven't read this book, but these guys live in our city, seen them around in our dsnetwork. the work they do is amazing. =)