Most people have no desire to think about the problems of retarded children and the heartbreak, courage and endurance of their parents. However, the reality of it, sans illusion and sentiment, is strikingly portrayed in this perceptive book. Written by a journalist (the mother of a retarded girl), it tells us how the challenge of such a child can break some families--divorce is not uncommon--but makes others stronger, wiser and more humane. In the US, 50% of the cases of retardation that occur are classified as preventable. This tragedy is the result of ignorant and/or trusting parents, incompetent professionals, and a general reticence to mention the subject. The parents who talked to Mantle about their lives with such children would have all preferred early diagnosis and less paternalism and more frankness on the part of professionals. The burden of such a child is painfully delineated with a clarity often touched with pathos and anger. The author doesn't pull her punches and yet, for all her feistiness, is a warm, caring parent who has overcome the horrible guilt, the loss of friends, the isolation and her own ambivalence toward her child. It is a journey few would chose to make, she says, but it has its own rewards. These parents have delved deep into their hearts and the experience produces a philosophy of life touched with mysticism and religion, she notes. This awareness blends with the sweet specialness of the retarded child to make Mantle's story very moving. It is not light reading, but it touches with its love, good sense and feeling of community.