Catherine Fowler Magee
Sally Rockwell missed her high-school graduation dance, but didn't mind because her baby brother was born that night. Her joy turned into consternation and bewilderment when she learned that he was severely retarded. She and her parents tried to shut him out of their lives but could not feel right about it, so on Christmas Day they brought him home to live with them.
The complications that result when the alumnae of the sorority to which Sally is pledged learn about the baby, when their next-door neighbor builds a wall for protection from him, and when Sally speaks out in the cause of retarded children make this story a timely one. It will appeal to young people who are breaking the bonds of ignorance and prejudice that have for so long kept handicapped children literally and figuratively in back bedrooms.
There are interesting episodes when Sally works in the school for retarded children, and finds something quite wonderful going on at Camp Echo which is set up for retarded children's vacation time.
"17 year old Sally Rockwell's baby brother Larry Joe, who was born on the eve of her graduation dance, turns out to be Mongoloid. The family ignores their physician's advice to keep the baby in a home and not to see him at all. Sally, however, develops an interest in retarded children, she visits a camp for the handicapped and chooses as her serority pledging project to work in a school for educable children. Her first-hand knowledge of the problem helps her to fight off the prejudices of her neighbors and to convince her parents that Larry Joe should be cared for at home."--Kirkus.
Deaconessa on Amazon wrote:
New York Times review, February 7th, 1965: "College-coed Sally Rockwell and her family encounter misunderstanding and prejudice from the community and sorority when a new brother is born a mongoloid. This novel, although superficial in portraying a girl coping with stress, presents the problems of acute retardation rationally, maturely." I concur.
I read this book when I was 13 or 14 years old, in the mid 60's. The book changed my life! Because of the book, I volunteered at a day camp for children with developmental disabilities, and that became my life's work. (I also met my first boyfriend, and later, my husband of 32 years, because of my work in this field.) To read the book now, would be to enter into history when families were told to but their child with a developmental disability into an institution and forget you had that son or daughter. It was a time that families who had a disabled child were shunned. (After all, there must be something wrong with the parents to have such a child.) The book also takes us back to a time of innocent dating and relationships. This novel, written for "young people," shows the reader the grass roots beginnings of taking individuals with intellectual disabilities out of the dark ages and into a world of acceptance and understanding.