Memoirist Ginsberg, who waited tables for 20 years to support her writing habit (Waiting, 2000), movingly details her experiences with a “different” child.
Ginsberg’s memoir is refreshingly free of “Why me?” whines; her devotion to her son is exemplary, her criticisms of unhelpful doctors and educators fair. She begins with Blaze’s difficult birth in 1987, when she was 24. A single mother who had recently broken up with the baby’s father, Ginsberg had a long labor, and Blaze was born with his umbilical cord wound around his neck, scoring low on post-birth tests. At home, she began rearing him with the help of her supportive family (her father accompanied her to most appointments). Like most mothers, Ginsberg loved her baby from the first moment and was determined to do the best for a boy who seemed bright and intelligent. When she enrolled Blaze in kindergarten, she expected him to be “a star in his class.” Instead, she was asked to meet with his teachers and the school psychologists, who told her Blaze should be transferred to the Special Education program. From then on, her life became an endless round of arguments with teachers and doctors who never made an exact diagnosis. Blaze hated loud noises (fire engines, garbage trucks, etc.) and found it hard to sit still, but he was sensitive to feelings and had a remarkable knowledge of music. Some suggested he was autistic, and most wanted her to put him on medication; she eventually tried Ritalin, stopping when he reacted badly to it. As the author chronicles her struggle to raise Blaze right, she celebrates the heroes (her family, some teachers) and nails the villains (obtuse, even cruel doctors and educators). Though Blaze’s difficult birth affected him in ways that cannot be specifically diagnosed, Ginsberg has learned that raising a child is an act of faith.
A stirring record of a mother’s battle fought with zest, humor, and love.