Reviews for Shape of the Eye


Booklist Reviews 2013 April #1
*Starred Review* Estreich is a woodworker, a fly fisherman, a guitar player, a teacher, and a poet. It is the poetry of his words that rings true in this difficult, poignant, but always moving memoir about the relationship between himself and Laura, his Down syndrome daughter: the child with the extra chromosome. In the opening pages, Estreich describes the uncertainty of the two weeks after Laura's birth, when he and his wife, Theresa, were waiting for test results. "Theresa said she felt as if our baby had been stolen, and replaced with a collection of medical problems." Estreich recalls reading everything he could get his hands on about the syndrome, including the background of John Langdon Down, the English doctor who discovered the condition. He describes, too, the life of his Japanese mother. It was, in fact, because Laura had vaguely Asian, almond-shaped eyes that Estreich initially thought the doctors had misdiagnosed his daughter's condition. He discusses the various medical problems that arose over the years. "To write a book about a child with Down syndrome . . . is to understand that life is water. It runs, slips, evaporates, changes course, and what seems an eternal truth . . . evaporates, leaving a changing present." Originally published in 2011, this edition features a new afterword. An elegantly written, luminous, and profoundly human portrait of pain and sorrow, hope and cautious optimism. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

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Kirkus Reviews 2013 February #2
The moving, heartbreakingly lucid story about how a family learned to cope with, and ultimately appreciate, a daughter born with Down syndrome. Friends had told poet Estreich (Textbook Illustrations of the Human Body, 2004) and his scientist wife that a "second child changes everything." Neither, however, was prepared for the news that the baby girl they would name Laura had Trisomy 21, Down syndrome. Both were devastated; but for the author, the diagnosis had even more profound implications. John Langdon Down, the Victorian-era physician after whom Laura's condition was named, had called it the "‘Mongolian idiocy." "Twisted, weird, and wrong" as this label was, it named not only Laura's diagnosis, but also the half-Japanese Estreich's own ethnic identity. "To have a child, any child, is to thrust ordinary mysteries into the foreground: mortality, love, inheritance." As he and his wife struggled to come to terms with their daughter's condition and the future it portended, Laura suffered heart failure and had to be force-fed through nasal tubes. Yet the little girl survived. Soon, the visits to doctors, cardiologists, nutritionists and speech pathologists and other accommodations the family made for Laura began to feel normal. What struck Estreich as bizarre was the negativity, both intended and unwitting, that pervaded the accounts he read about Down syndrome. Laura was a child first and not a diagnosis. And the fate written into the 47 chromosomes of her DNA was no more tragic than that of other children who carried their own genetic risks hidden within supposedly "normal" bodies. With the humility born of painful experience, Estreich concludes that "it is not the chromosome, but our response to it, that shapes the contour of a life." A poignantly eloquent meditation on the genetics of belonging. Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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