Today’s review: All I Can Handle: I’m No Mother Teresa, by Kim Stagliano (“Kimoir,” Skyhorse Publishing, 2010)
From Amazon’s product description: “How one woman raises three daughters with autism, loses one at Disney World, stays married, has sex, bakes gluten-free, goes broke, and keeps her sense of humor.”
Short review: Highly, highly recommended. In fact, recommended above everything else I’ve reviewed here so far, and everything I’ve read this year. If I could make you read this book, I would, and I think everyone can and will get something from it, if only the realization that no matter how difficult your life may be, you can retain your wits and sense of humor if you make the choice to do it.
Long review: I never thought I would love “an autism book,” but Kim Stagliano’s opening sentence (Oh God. Not another autism book.) suggested that’s not what she’d written – and I spent the next 200 pages literally glued to the text. At the risk of sounding like every other gushing reviewer with nothing realistic to say, “I laughed, I cried, I thought seriously about things I hadn’t considered before.” (Okay, I didn’t actually cry, but I did laugh out loud, and think, and I cringed in more than a few places, but never once did it occur to me to put the book down.) I stayed up until 3am on a work night, and finished the book the next afternoon despite a pounding headache – I just had to know how it ended.
Although known as an outspoken advocate for autism, Kim Stagliano writes like a humorist (and an adept one at that). The book is honest, funny, and thought-provoking by turns – and I loathe having to use cliches to describe it. Stagliano manages to find humor in an unthinkable-but-real story that would send many people wailing into a corner. As the mother of a “neurotypical” son who never flushed Poise pads down the toilet or added poo-buttons to his Sesame Street kitchen, I have great respect for her presence of mind and more for her ability to tell what in many voices would become a very difficult story with a straightforwardness and wit that does, in fact, leave one with the impression that there might just be another Mother Teresa out there, albeit one with a slightly rougher sense of humor. Based on this Kimoir, she came by it honestly.
I cannot recommend this book strongly enough. I do not necessarily share all of Kim’s views on Life, The Universe, and Politics, but I emerged from reading this with a very strong impression that she and I would get along despite any differences. I liked the woman who wrote this memoir, I respected her struggles and I laughed at her jokes. I think the rest of you will too.
Highly recommended. The blog has only been going for one calendar quarter, but I’d call this my “pick of the year,” for sure.