A Slant of Sun: One Child’s Courage was named Best Book of the Year by Salon magazine and The Philadelphia Inquirer. The book is also a finalist for the 1998 National Book Award for Nonfiction. A Slat of Sun was quickly regarded as a contemporary classic, as it was highly commended for its heartwarming story about love in the face of a great challenge between mother and son.
This book is a personal memoir of Beth Kephart, about her son, Jeremy, who had a PDD diagnosis. Kephart narrates her family’s search for medical and therapeutic assistance, as well as the answers she had found serendipitously along her way. In the face of a great challenge, a mother rediscovers herself and life in general. She lives with her family in Pennsylvania.
According to one of the book reviews available online, A Slant of Sun: One Child’s Courage “gives voice to all of the mothers who ever wondered about their child’s “difference,” [and] the revised definition of motherhood in the shadow of disability,” (Gabovitch, 2002).
Another review says, “Kephart’s fears that her own maternal failings are somehow implicated in Jeremy’s problem stand out as the emotional core of this memoir. Her faith in her son, perseverance, and eventual acceptance of herself play as important a role in his healing process” (DiLucchio, 1998).
Both reviews focused on the rich message intended for mothers in A Slant of Sun. In her review, she notes that a child’s disability creates a new concept of motherhood, and ultimately, it redefines a mother’s life, especially the way she perceives herself as a mother.
Indeed, A Slant of Sun tugs at mothers heart strings because motherhood is difficult as it is. A child’s difficulty multiplies the challenges in many ways, and as such, mothers are called to summon all their courage and give the best love that they can give so that their children can have a taste of a “normal life.”
The main characters in the story are the author herself, and her son, Jeremy. They are supported by Bill, the husband and father. The characters each has a solid spirit that seems to have been designed for overcoming struggles.
The parents’ amazing love for their child helped them through the situation, and ultimately helped Jeremy. It is difficult to divide sympathy among them, because each couldn’t possibly be suffering more than the other, considering how much love they have for each other.
Jeremy’s case is called PDD or pervasive developmental disorder. It is as vague as it sounds, which made it even more difficult for Jeremy’s family to understand the scenario they were in. PDD is somehow related to the complex autism disorder, except PDD seemed “milder.”
Evenso, there were no sufficiently authoritative medical conclusion about PDD, let alone manuals for parents whose children also have Jeremy’s disorder. The author said her child screamed each time strangers approached him and spent a lot of time daily rearranging his toys into some pattern that only he (Jeremy) can understand.
I think the book is more than successful at bringing to public attention the case of PDD. For one, the author spoke from her home, and from her heart. When a highly technical or complicated disorder should be understood by the public, there is no better way than to tell it as it is experienced daily in the family. Not just families who are familiar with the disorder appreciate the book; practically every reader who loves his/her family could relate to it.
The information and imagery within the story that chronicles the family’s daily reactions to Jeremy’s PDD episodes is related to the readers in a fantastic manner. Kephart should be commended for relaying a story so serious yet so full of positive vibe about it. There are even moments in the story when Kephart sounded life and rich in sense of humor. As it is written straight from a mother’s heart, every word was raw and striking, as if the conversation was personal and one-on-one.
Jeremy’s parents found experts’ opinions lacking, so they took matters into their own loving hands. They allowed Jeremy to keep his interests – trains and cars to planes and trucks – and allowed him to react to strangers in his own way, while they stay close to back him up.
More importantly, the parents made a wise decision by picking a good school for Jeremy’s learning progress. By clinging to her intuition and creative imagination, Jeremy’s mother helped him find his way through the dark tunnel of his disorder, which not many medical experts could do on their own. True enough, parents’ love, more specially a mother’s love, is the most powerful healer of all.
The book made me appreciate my “normal” life more. I also think it is a powerful reminder that not everything can be solved by knowledge gained by education. While education is important and its worth cannot be discounted, it is not the only solution to our life’s trials. In fact, a person’s strong will and sheer determination can help him get things done. Jeremy’s parents were not experts in Jeremy’s condition, but in the end, it was them who found the ways to make Jeremy function normally in the society.
Ultimately, the parents’ unyielding belief that their child could be well has helped Jeremy overcome the difficulties caused by his disorder.
Kephart, B. (1998). A Slant of Sun: One Child’s Courage. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., Inc.
Harper Collins. Beth Kephart from Harper Collins Publishers.
Retrieved November 9, 2006.
Web site: http://www.harpercollins.com/authors/19248/Beth_Kephart/index.aspx
Gabovitch, E. (2002). Book Review: Mothers and Autism. Retrieved November 9, 2006. Web site: http://www.firstsigns.org/articles/mothers_2002.htm
DiLucchio , P. (1998). Amazon’s Customer Review. Retrieved November 9, 2006.
Website: http://www.amazon.ca/Slant-Sun-One-Childs-Courage/dp/product- description/0393027422