A mother depicts her family’s epic battle against nearly insurmountable genetic odds.
First published to wide acclaim in France, Hunter translates the intrepid tale of Julliand, a Parisian journalist and mother, whose own DNA cruelly forced upon her this memoir’s gripping subject. Already parents to a healthy 4-year-old son, Gaspard, in 2006, Julliand and her husband, Loïc, wondered why the big toes of their toddler, Thaïs, were turning outward, giving her a slightly awkward gait. Suspecting an orthopedic cause, nothing could have prepared the couple for the devastating diagnosis: metachromatic leukodystrophy, an incurable degenerative neural disorder that would, in short order, rob Thaïs of every faculty before truncating her young life. The Julliands learned the diagnosis on Thaïs’ second birthday and faced the grim prospect that she was not expected to reach the age of 3. As if this weren’t terrifying enough, at the time of the diagnosis, the author was five months pregnant and presented with the prospect that their unborn child had a 25 percent chance of having MLD as well. Six days after Azylis was born, while Thaïs was becoming bedridden and about to go mute, the Julliands learned that Azylis, too, had MLD. While lamenting that “genetics don’t let the laws of mathematics get in the way” but “take their toll as they see fit,” the Julliands drew even more deeply from their reserves of courage and agreed to a stem cell transplant, the one chance Azylis had to avoid the full brunt of Thaïs’ harsh fate. Though the author’s account charts suffering of mythic proportions, the lessons gleaned from her daughters prove incredibly wise.
Unflinching and inspirational, a parent’s powerful tale of finding love and understanding beyond the senses.