In his first book, Brooks shares his search for answers about his adopted daughter and the unknown childhood trauma that drove her to suicide at age 17.
The author and his wife, Erika, knew when they adopted Casey that she had been premature, her twin had died at birth, and that she had spent two months in an incubator. At 14 months, she couldn’t even sit up, but she developed quickly after adoption, achieving normalcy by age 2. Living in Marin County in California, Brooks describes their struggle and confusion with parenting issues. But theirs was an especially difficult child. Casey was given to tantrums and intense rages, even at age 3. The author describes her early childhood in intensive detail, grasping at memories of her toys, music, the clothes she wore, and how gently they brushed her hair. He also tells of her explosions and screaming and their attempts at discipline, followed by acquiescence caused by their fear of another explosion. An analyst recommended a book on attachment disorder, which Brooks read and cast aside as little help. Casey’s self-loathing and her perfectionist inability to tolerate failure caused rows that left her parents at their wits’ end. Eventually, she gained early acceptance to Bennington in Vermont, wanting to be as far away as possible. So why did she drive to the Golden Gate Bridge and leap to her death? The author’s description of their anguish is heart-wrenching, and his desperate search for answers and guilt for not doing the right thing without knowing what it was reveals the utter helplessness of suicide survivors. Brooks and his wife left no stone unturned, consulting adoption experts, orphanages in Eastern Europe, and child trauma experts. As he discovered Casey’s problems, he suffered even further pain and trauma, since the answer was there and no one had told him.
Brooks explains Casey’s disorder and available help in terms that will help anyone struggling with a difficult child. Teachers, analysts, and parents alike can find relief and hope in this book.