This book could have been mawkish. After all, knowing your child has been born with an extra chromosome and will thus never live a completely 'normal' life, is the stuff of a real tearjerker. But author Hellendoorn is made of tougher stuff. Instead of agonising over her daughter's intellectual handicap she focuses on the young woman's strengths, and particularly her remarkable artistic ability (the front cover of the book is one of Miriam's paintings, the Madonna she sent to her parents in a suitcase she borrowed). Miriam made wonderful progress, even travelling to Australia by herself, and living independently. But then she suffered a stroke, a new disability piled on top of the old one she's lived with for 40 years. And once again Huberta Hellendoorn threw herself into her daughter's rehabilitation, this time via a series of 'letters' to Miriam, reminding her of her accomplishments and urging her on.
This is the backbone of The Madonna in the Suitcase, and it's an inspirational and immensely powerful work. Setbacks are acknowledged but always Huberta moves onwards and upwards. With a Mum like Huberta as cheerleader-in-chief Miriam couldn't help but make headway. And no reader who picks up this book will be immune to her strength, faith, power and devotion. Keep a box of tissues handy. (Kevin Ball, Wairarapa Times Age, 19/8/2009)
Full of love and joy and true family values. Felt the emotions of the highs and lows and the strength of your courage.