Synopses & Reviews
A mother's attempt to know the heart and mind of a disabled daughter growing into adulthood.
What happens when love is no longer enough? Jane Bernstein thought that learning to accept her daughter's disabilities meant her struggles were over. But as Rachel grew up and needed more than a parent's devotion, both mother and daughter were confronted with formidable obstacles.
Rachel in the World, which begins in Rachel's fifth year and ends when she turns twenty-two, tells of their barriers and successes with the same honesty and humor that made Loving Rachel, Bernstein's first memoir, a classic in its field. The linked accounts in part 1 center on family issues, social services, experiences with caregivers, and Rachel herself difficult, charming, hard to fathom, eager for her own independence. The second part of the book chronicles Bernstein's attempt to find Rachel housing at a time when over 200,000 Americans with mental retardation were on waiting lists for residential services. As Rachel prepares to leave her mother's constant protection, Bernstein invites the reader to share the frustrations and unexpected pleasures of finding a place for her daughter, first in her family, and then in the world.
"A refreshingly unsentimental, wrenchingly candid sequel to the author's previous memoir about her developmentally challenged daughter, Loving Rachel....A bracing testimony not at all self-flattering to parental love and advocacy." Kirkus Reviews
"This sequel to Bernstein's Loving Rachel: A Family's Journey from Grief provides a rare, honest, even gritty glimpse into the life of a young person with the dual diagnosis of mental retardation and mental illness....An unsentimental yet inspiring story of unshakable mother love." Library Journal
"Bernstein's account is unflinchingly candid and often wrenching. And while her deep love for Rachel is never in doubt, the relentless weight of caring for her is painful even at this remove. But it is this very quality that makes this book so important." Shelf Awareness
"Jane Bernstein's Rachel in the World is a remarkable book about tough love about the many challenges of raising a child with special needs, and about the woeful inadequacy of terms like 'special needs.' It is a fearlessly honest book about disability and family life, in which children with disabilities are not heaven's special angels, and in which children with disabilities grow up to be adults with disabilities. It is a necessary book, in which parents of children with disabilities worry about the world of social services and group homes and uncomprehending strangers. And it is a bracing book that reminds us how tough a parent's love can be and how the power of love can sustain us in even the toughest times." Michael Berube, author of Life As We Know It: A Father, a Family, and an Exceptional Child
"The battles and triumphs of motherhood are featured in Bernstein's compelling account of life with Rachel. The honesty is apparent, as is the love, the pain, the hope-always the hope." Eva Feder Kittay, author of Love's Labor: Essays on Women, Equality, and Dependency
"[A] moving memoir, not just for people with a disabled child, but for anyone who feels powerless about the limits of love." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
About the Author
Jane Bernstein, a professor of English and creative writing at Carnegie Mellon University, is the author of Rachel in the World: A Memoir, Bereft--A Sister's Story, and other books. For more, visit www.janebernstein.net.