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"A poignant, beautifully written, and intensely moving memoir" --Abraham Verghese, author of Cutting for Stone "In this wise and moving memoir, George Estreich tells the story of his family as his younger daughter is diagnosed with Down syndrome and they are thrust into an unfamiliar world. Estreich writes with a poet's eye and gift of language, weaving this personal "A poignant, beautifully written, and intensely moving memoir" --Abraham Verghese, author of Cutting for Stone "In this wise and moving memoir, George Estreich tells the story of his family as his younger daughter is diagnosed with Down syndrome and they are thrust into an unfamiliar world. Estreich writes with a poet's eye and gift of language, weaving this personal journey into the larger history of his family, exploring the deep and often hidden connections between the past and the present. Engaging and unsentimental, The Shape of the Eye taught me a great deal. It is a story I found myself thinking about long after I'd finished the final pages." --Kim Edwards, author of The Memory Keeper's Daughter "The Shape of the Eye personalizes Down syndrome, bringing a condition abstracted in the medical literature into the full dimensionality of one family's life. It's brave of George Estreich to make what has befallen his family so public, trusting of him to let an unknown audience second-guess the family's choices. Because he's opened his home and heart in this memoir, we are privileged to witness in chaotic, heart-wrenching, joyous detail what it means to have and to love a child with Down syndrome." --Marcia Childress, Associate Professor of Medical Education (Medical Humanities), University of Virginia School of Medicine, from her Afterword for the book When Laura Estreich is born, her appearance presents a puzzle: does the shape of her eyes indicate Down syndrome, or the fact that she has a Japanese grandmother? In this powerful memoir, George Estreich, a poet and stay-at-home dad, tells his daughter's story, reflecting on her inheritance --- from the literal legacy of her genes, to the family history that precedes her, to the Victorian physician John Langdon Down's diagnostic error of "Mongolian idiocy." Against this backdrop, Laura takes her place in the Estreich family as a unique child, quirky and real, loved for everything ordinary and extraordinary about her.


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"A poignant, beautifully written, and intensely moving memoir" --Abraham Verghese, author of Cutting for Stone "In this wise and moving memoir, George Estreich tells the story of his family as his younger daughter is diagnosed with Down syndrome and they are thrust into an unfamiliar world. Estreich writes with a poet's eye and gift of language, weaving this personal "A poignant, beautifully written, and intensely moving memoir" --Abraham Verghese, author of Cutting for Stone "In this wise and moving memoir, George Estreich tells the story of his family as his younger daughter is diagnosed with Down syndrome and they are thrust into an unfamiliar world. Estreich writes with a poet's eye and gift of language, weaving this personal journey into the larger history of his family, exploring the deep and often hidden connections between the past and the present. Engaging and unsentimental, The Shape of the Eye taught me a great deal. It is a story I found myself thinking about long after I'd finished the final pages." --Kim Edwards, author of The Memory Keeper's Daughter "The Shape of the Eye personalizes Down syndrome, bringing a condition abstracted in the medical literature into the full dimensionality of one family's life. It's brave of George Estreich to make what has befallen his family so public, trusting of him to let an unknown audience second-guess the family's choices. Because he's opened his home and heart in this memoir, we are privileged to witness in chaotic, heart-wrenching, joyous detail what it means to have and to love a child with Down syndrome." --Marcia Childress, Associate Professor of Medical Education (Medical Humanities), University of Virginia School of Medicine, from her Afterword for the book When Laura Estreich is born, her appearance presents a puzzle: does the shape of her eyes indicate Down syndrome, or the fact that she has a Japanese grandmother? In this powerful memoir, George Estreich, a poet and stay-at-home dad, tells his daughter's story, reflecting on her inheritance --- from the literal legacy of her genes, to the family history that precedes her, to the Victorian physician John Langdon Down's diagnostic error of "Mongolian idiocy." Against this backdrop, Laura takes her place in the Estreich family as a unique child, quirky and real, loved for everything ordinary and extraordinary about her.

30 review for The Shape of the Eye: A Memoir

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Margulis

    "What will become of them?" George Estreich asks of his two daughters. "What will happen, as Ellie becomes an adult? Will Laura follow her to college? Will she live with us? Will Ellie live close by or far away? What will happen after we are gone? We don't know. We save, prepare, forge the links we need to forge, keep our expectations high. Beyond that, we cannot say, but then, we cannot say with any child. Anything can happen. We do what we would do if they had the same number of chromosomes: w "What will become of them?" George Estreich asks of his two daughters. "What will happen, as Ellie becomes an adult? Will Laura follow her to college? Will she live with us? Will Ellie live close by or far away? What will happen after we are gone? We don't know. We save, prepare, forge the links we need to forge, keep our expectations high. Beyond that, we cannot say, but then, we cannot say with any child. Anything can happen. We do what we would do if they had the same number of chromosomes: we try to prepare them for the future we do not know." While any parent--whether you have a special needs child or not--can appreciate these kinds of questions and the struggle George and his wife Theresa go through in raising their daughters, I had to force myself to read this entire book. I found the author's relentless musings on himself as a (lapsed) poet, his strained and unhappy relationship with his Japanese-born mom, and on Down syndrome as a philosophical, biological, and social construct tiresome. The book dragged for me. It felt like Laura, his second daughter who has Down syndrome, was missing from the story. I wanted her to come to life on the page the way the narrator kept saying she was alive: as an individual. I wanted more scenes of real life and less expository prose and reflections on meaning. I appreciate the subject tremendously. But it was presented in this book in a way that made me impatient and wishing for more.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Cindy Hudson

    When George Estreich’s second daughter was born, the doctor commented on her almond-shaped eyes and wondered if she may have Down Syndrome. George and his wife didn’t think much of it because his mother is Japanese. But when tests confirmed the doctor’s diagnosis, the Estreich’s entered a world they had no preparation for, a world where they struggled to see their daughter as a “child first” instead of her medical and developmental challenges. Estreich recounts his family’s journey while shedding When George Estreich’s second daughter was born, the doctor commented on her almond-shaped eyes and wondered if she may have Down Syndrome. George and his wife didn’t think much of it because his mother is Japanese. But when tests confirmed the doctor’s diagnosis, the Estreich’s entered a world they had no preparation for, a world where they struggled to see their daughter as a “child first” instead of her medical and developmental challenges. Estreich recounts his family’s journey while shedding light on the historical and current views of Down Syndrome and the people who have the extra chromosome that defines it in his memoir, The Shape of the Eye. As a stay-at-home dad, Estreich cares for his two daughters, Ellie and Laura. He is also a writer, a poet turned to prose to capture the challenges and the joys of parenting both his daughters, but particularly Laura, the youngest. In his wholly engaging, honest depiction of life with a Down Syndrome child, Estreich connects with readers whether they have a personal connection to someone in their own lives with Down Syndrome or not. He talks about his difficult relationship with his mother, who moved to the U.S. from Japan after World War II, and how that intensified after Laura’s diagnosis. He discusses challenges on the playground, where he feared other children wouldn’t accept Laura because of her differences. As the book unfolds, Estreich celebrates Laura’s milestones: learning to eat, learning to speak, integrating into school life. Along the way he begins to see her as the person she is, developmentally behind her sister for sure, yet expressing her distinct personality and finding her own place in the world. The Shape of the Eye is not just for those who may be dealing with similar circumstances, rather any parent can find commonality in Estreich’s story of learning to love and accept his child for who she is rather than what he expects her to be. The publisher provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

  3. 5 out of 5

    James Trent

    The book combines George Estreich's experiences as a man with his experiences of raising two daughters, one of whom happens to have Down syndrome. It is a book more about George and his take on life than it is about disability. And that's a good thing. Fathers can gain much insight about good fathering from the book. I highly recommend it. The book combines George Estreich's experiences as a man with his experiences of raising two daughters, one of whom happens to have Down syndrome. It is a book more about George and his take on life than it is about disability. And that's a good thing. Fathers can gain much insight about good fathering from the book. I highly recommend it.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Tamara Cobacoglo

    Considering the subject matter, I found myself yawning. I am an advocate for people with disability and the injustice that can occur in their lives, however, this memoir did nothing to tell me about who she is as an individual, her struggles and how she overcame some of them in a world full of superficiality and social injustice. Instead, for a poet Estreich disappoints me with his philosophical ramblings and doesn't really speak from the heart. He seems self indulgent with his thoughts and does Considering the subject matter, I found myself yawning. I am an advocate for people with disability and the injustice that can occur in their lives, however, this memoir did nothing to tell me about who she is as an individual, her struggles and how she overcame some of them in a world full of superficiality and social injustice. Instead, for a poet Estreich disappoints me with his philosophical ramblings and doesn't really speak from the heart. He seems self indulgent with his thoughts and doesn't express feelings the way I had hoped a poet might have. He is too busy impressing academics rather than actually telling his story. It doesn't even really read like a memoir but more like a thesis. Laura is more of a muse for him, rather than a beautiful daughter who might teach him something.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Tracy

    THIS is the book parents of a newly diagnosed child should read. It does not romanticize the experience, it does not try to turn children with Down syndrome into magical beings- instead it talks about the initial shock, the worries, and the gradual acceptance. It explains IFSPs and therapies and the effects on a household. It also shows that every child with Down syndrome is as unique as any child without Down syndrome, and so are their families. While I sometimes felt there was too much written THIS is the book parents of a newly diagnosed child should read. It does not romanticize the experience, it does not try to turn children with Down syndrome into magical beings- instead it talks about the initial shock, the worries, and the gradual acceptance. It explains IFSPs and therapies and the effects on a household. It also shows that every child with Down syndrome is as unique as any child without Down syndrome, and so are their families. While I sometimes felt there was too much written about George and not enough about Laura, in fairness it is labeled a memoir.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Molly

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Laura - she's a funny kid with a terrific personality; what's not to like? However, for a book ostensibly about life with a kid with DS, a LOT of this book is about the author's writing history, constantly talking about the poetry he stopped writing, or talking a lot about the process of writing the book we're reading, which is tedious and really seems unrelated to the subject at hand. (While the parts about his mother are often equally superfluous, she's a hec I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Laura - she's a funny kid with a terrific personality; what's not to like? However, for a book ostensibly about life with a kid with DS, a LOT of this book is about the author's writing history, constantly talking about the poetry he stopped writing, or talking a lot about the process of writing the book we're reading, which is tedious and really seems unrelated to the subject at hand. (While the parts about his mother are often equally superfluous, she's a heck of a lot more interesting, which counts for quite a bit.)

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to know more about the experience of having a child with Down Syndrome in their family. I found it reinforced much of what I have experienced in the almost 5 years of being the grandmother of a child with Down Syndrome. Yes, she is different from other children in some ways, but every child is different from other children in some ways. There are many more ways in which they/we are like each other.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    I felt like the author was trying so hard to invoke some sort of emotion from me as a reader, but his writing style was so disconnected that I couldn't feel anything at all. I wanted to hear about Laura as a person, but Estreich treats her like some creature he's observing from a great distance. The story was there, but he completely missed it in all of his philosophical ramblings about chromosomes and the history of Down syndrome. I felt like the author was trying so hard to invoke some sort of emotion from me as a reader, but his writing style was so disconnected that I couldn't feel anything at all. I wanted to hear about Laura as a person, but Estreich treats her like some creature he's observing from a great distance. The story was there, but he completely missed it in all of his philosophical ramblings about chromosomes and the history of Down syndrome.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Tiffany

    Some parts of this are real: pretty, ugly, funny... THERE. Readable. Enjoyable. But when Estreich went of into a series of self-indulgent, philosophical ramblings, I stopped paying attention. The entire last third of the book was like that, to the point where I was thinking to myself, "Does this ever end, or is he going to philosophize forever?" I was ultimately bored. Some parts of this are real: pretty, ugly, funny... THERE. Readable. Enjoyable. But when Estreich went of into a series of self-indulgent, philosophical ramblings, I stopped paying attention. The entire last third of the book was like that, to the point where I was thinking to myself, "Does this ever end, or is he going to philosophize forever?" I was ultimately bored.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Shadi

    A beautifully written, poetic, and smart memoir. It was uplifting w/o the meaningless sentiment and educational w/o being cold and clinical. So much of what Estreich wrote I saw echoed in my own life but this is a great book regardless of whether one has a child with Down Syndrome or not.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Angela Boord

    A thoughtful book mostly about how Down syndrome is perceived. Written by a poet, with some nice turns of phrase.

  12. 4 out of 5

    C

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. A touching memoir of a stay at home dad who made the journey from disbelief, and slave to his daughters medical condition, to totally committed and engaged father of two wonderful, individual girls. In the beginning, we see George grapple with the meaning of Down syndrome when his second daughter, Laura, is born. He immerses himself in books, Studies, and medical jargon. The medical and genetic reality of the third 21st chromosome consumed him. He became the keeper of the story. He could spell ou A touching memoir of a stay at home dad who made the journey from disbelief, and slave to his daughters medical condition, to totally committed and engaged father of two wonderful, individual girls. In the beginning, we see George grapple with the meaning of Down syndrome when his second daughter, Laura, is born. He immerses himself in books, Studies, and medical jargon. The medical and genetic reality of the third 21st chromosome consumed him. He became the keeper of the story. He could spell out the details of her heart defect, surgery, and possible outcomes without a second thought. It was his way of dealing with the 'tragedy' instead of the person who was his daughter. In time, he realized this and that he didn't love her yet. He had become "a parent to one child "Ellie, a four-year-old, and "a triage nurse to the other". This was the turning point. He began looking at Laura as a child. He began to notice that Laura's development was "equivalent" to Ellie's though much slower. Progress was measured by how many seconds she could stand alone rather than-she stands, she steps, she walks-Ellie became the keeper of progress. George summarizes the dichotomy of raising a child with medical issues "we are always dealing with the doubleness of child and condition". At first Laura equaled Down syndrome which equaled unhappiness. But years later he saw it differently. Everyone was something that makes them different from everyone else. For Laura it was Down syndrome, and she is herself and happy. By the writing of this book George knows that Down Syndrome is just her way "of being human". It is no longer the focus of their lives. It was not just her extra chromosome that controlled their lives, but their response to it. In their family they predetermined that Laura and her life were worth preserving, worth the medical interventions, worth the work and teaching it took for her to learn to walk, to eat, to talk, to progress. Throughout the book, George reveals historical treatment of individuals with Down Syndrome. Down, who first brought the condition to the public, described the shared symptoms and declared the treatment to be confinement in a mental institution. Today, details are laid out painfully as the full impact of Down syndrome overcomes new parents. More is known today and there is much to be done-correcting heart defects, pallets, and consulting that specialists in learning to eat, talk, using weak limbs. In this book, George calls for a change in how Down syndrome is presented to new parents. Give them hope and assurance, for their child's future-show the love and ability not just the medical obstacles.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Marian

    Parents, in particular abled parents, writing about their disabled children is a fraught category of memoir. We all have been raised in the abled world and abled parents in particular often haven't completed the difficult process of recognizing their long-acquired biases and assumptions, and can end up objectifying and at least in part erasing their child as a distinct individual affected by but not encompassed by the rote cultural definitions and assumptions around their disability or condition Parents, in particular abled parents, writing about their disabled children is a fraught category of memoir. We all have been raised in the abled world and abled parents in particular often haven't completed the difficult process of recognizing their long-acquired biases and assumptions, and can end up objectifying and at least in part erasing their child as a distinct individual affected by but not encompassed by the rote cultural definitions and assumptions around their disability or condition. George Estreich, a poet and stay-at-home dad of two girls who himself faces lifelong struggles with depression, but lacking any visible disability, certainly has to grapple with his preconceived notions about children and adults with Down syndrome, and his first response to his daughter's diagnosis is a sense that his family is ruined, though he tries to stifle this feeling. As the story of becoming her dad unfolds, we learn much about Laura's personality and specific challenges and differences, and how these are worked with, addressed, and accepted. But what we learn about most is this father's gradual process of interrogating his assumptions and emotions, both broadening his mind and deepening his ability to feel and connect with his whole family. Though there is no tidy sense of resolution of all things and unremitting family joy (thankfully), there is a satisfying and true emotional arc that makes the book a stand-out.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sue

    Estreich says he wrote this book about his daughter Laura, who has Down syndrome, because he saw a story that needed to be told. He wanted people to see beyond the stereotypes to the human being. Yes, those born with Down syndrome have certain characteristics in common—the eyes, the body type, the speech—but they are children first, each unique. Laura was the second daughter born to George and Theresa Estreich. When people noticed the different shape of her eyes, Estreich hoped they simply refle Estreich says he wrote this book about his daughter Laura, who has Down syndrome, because he saw a story that needed to be told. He wanted people to see beyond the stereotypes to the human being. Yes, those born with Down syndrome have certain characteristics in common—the eyes, the body type, the speech—but they are children first, each unique. Laura was the second daughter born to George and Theresa Estreich. When people noticed the different shape of her eyes, Estreich hoped they simply reflected his part-Japanese heritage. The doctor’s confirmation of her condition changed their lives. Her first year was spent mostly in hospitals, but beyond that, as the years went on, they learned how to adapt and to “speak Laura.” Estreich weaves in a great deal of information about the syndrome, but the heart of the story is his loving relationship with both Laura and her sister Ellie. It’s a beautiful story well told.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Grace Gibson

    Initially 4 stars but lowered to 3 after some reflection. Though Estreich eventually gets to a place of love and acceptance of Laura, I believe the early part of the book contains some harmful rhetoric about disability and raising a disabled child that is not entirely expunged by his later acceptance.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Anne

    When Estreich's daughter Laura was born with Down Syndrome, he found himself writing a memoir instead of the poetry that had made up such a significant part of his life and professional career. This memoir is a reflection on Laura's personhood, a pondering of the way her genes and family history shaped who she is as a person. While his ultimate purpose and conclusion is to emphasize Laura's unique and valuable identity, he does spend more time exploring his own responses to her diagnosis and its When Estreich's daughter Laura was born with Down Syndrome, he found himself writing a memoir instead of the poetry that had made up such a significant part of his life and professional career. This memoir is a reflection on Laura's personhood, a pondering of the way her genes and family history shaped who she is as a person. While his ultimate purpose and conclusion is to emphasize Laura's unique and valuable identity, he does spend more time exploring his own responses to her diagnosis and its impact on his other relationships. In some ways, I felt that Laura was still distant because of the focus of the memoir on her father's own internal paradigm shift, and I found it difficult to stick with at times. But overall I appreciated the honest glimpse into his experiences when faced with such an unexpected diagnosis. Estreich seems subtlely skeptical about religion, so I was particularly interested in reflecting on his natural sense of the value of all that Laura is. In the introduction, Estreich says, "If Down syndrome were ordinary in the world, if a commonsense view of dignity and personhood and capability prevailed, then perhaps our early days would have been easier. But Down syndrome is not ordinary in the world." As he considers the ways and metaphors of understanding Laura as a person, Estreich questions the idea of "normal" and ultimately concludes that "everyone of us exists on a continuum of ability." Accordingly, he posits that it is impossible to treat a person with a disability, or any person, as a known entity: "I believe not only that people with Down syndrome deserve to be known differently, but that their individual mysteries, and the mystery of their individuality, should be respected...We should not deny to others the individuality and sense of possibility that we ourselves take for granted." In spite of these assertions, Estreich chooses to avoid the hot-button political issues related to Laura's life (I assumed he meant prenatal testing and subsequent abortion). He cautions about the technology used to diagnose Down syndrome in the womb and points to drugs in clinical trials as evidence that we should be using our scientific capacities to look for ways to help people with Down syndrome instead of ways to find and eliminate them. But his philosophical approach in general is one of deconstruction and subjectivity, so he does not feel comfortable moving from his assertion that Laura's life is unique and valuable to an assertion that all human life is unique and valuable. I struggled with this quite a bit, and found my own objections expressed in what I was reading in Lumen Fidei at the same time: "Truth itself, the truth which would comprehensively explain our life as individuals and in society, is regarded with suspicion... In the end, what we are left with is relativism, in which the question of universal truth...is no longer relevant." It was this rejection of universal truth that I found very frustrating. Still, I learned from this book, especially because even if our philosophical frameworks were different, Estreich and I arrived at a similar conclusion about the dignity and potential of a unique human life. In Lumen Fidei, the Pope also spoke to this deep sense of meaning that all hearts can grasp: "The question of truth is really a question of memory, deep memory, for it deals with something prior to ourselves and can succeed in uniting us in a way that transcends our petty and limited individual consciousness. It is a question about the origin of all that is, in whose light we can glimpse the goal and thus the meaning of our common path." I appreciated the opportunity to learn from this Dad and his family and to reflect on everything he challenged me to think about. Estreich was motivated by the desire to simply have the conversation, and I respect his courage in putting himself out there as a starting point.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    This book was selected by my "Book Babes" Book Club. The father of the lovely child on the cover is a stay-at-home dad who is also a poet and writer. He paints a beautiful canvas of words across the page. He lives in my town (didn't know that when I first started reading). So, it was fun to have him paint descriptions of this city in the heart of the Willamette Valley of Oregon. He also mentions my old work place, the Eugene Children's Health and Rehabilitation Center, where I learned as a young This book was selected by my "Book Babes" Book Club. The father of the lovely child on the cover is a stay-at-home dad who is also a poet and writer. He paints a beautiful canvas of words across the page. He lives in my town (didn't know that when I first started reading). So, it was fun to have him paint descriptions of this city in the heart of the Willamette Valley of Oregon. He also mentions my old work place, the Eugene Children's Health and Rehabilitation Center, where I learned as a young 21 year old receptionist that having a child with special needs was not the end of the world but the beginning of something beautiful. I saw so many happy families as they waited for their appointments. They were amazing people who adapted and grew from the challenge of raising a child with special needs. This book is not only about Down Syndrome but essays about the author's life and relationships. I loved how he spoke of his evolving love for Laura. He thinks deeply about things and writes about them beautifully. About the first year and the challenges of getting his daughter, Laura to eat and develop, he writes: "That year, in my bitterest moments -- bitterness being the taste of poison, the evolved displeasure that says, Do Not East -- I'd think, Great. Another climb out of the canyon, just to get to the plateau where other children are already toddling toward the horizon, hand in hand with happy parents. Our frustration with eating became a species of a general discontent: the longing, wistful and bitter turns, for the normal childhood, the one that was supposed to happen. It is, of course, nostalgia for a projection. It dies hard. Even now, years later, it feels sometimes as if the rest of the world is light enough to walk on clouds and live in cities there, while we have sunk, under the weight of a single chromosome, into a valley of intermittent rain." p. 108 The work is poignant, and I loved his reflections on work and family. He is a first-class writer (he used to teach English and composition at the university level). The biggest downside is that, sometimes, there were many details that did not interest me, but it would definitely interest someone who was the parent or grandparent of a Down Syndrome child or worked with one. I just saw that he will be coming to our May 19th book club discussion, but I think I am speaking at a retreat that weekend. I would have loved to meet him, but as I look at his picture in the inside of the jacket, I have seen him around town! I'll have to introduce myself next time.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sue

    This book is a memoir about the author's experience having a child with Down Syndrome. His second child Laura was born with Down Syndrome in 2001. Her diagnosis was a surprise to the author and his wife because they did not have prenatal testing and the author himself is half Japanese so the baby's almond shaped eyes were not an immediate clue to the parents. I have to give this author credit. His writing is raw and painfully honest and there were many moments in the beginning of the book that I This book is a memoir about the author's experience having a child with Down Syndrome. His second child Laura was born with Down Syndrome in 2001. Her diagnosis was a surprise to the author and his wife because they did not have prenatal testing and the author himself is half Japanese so the baby's almond shaped eyes were not an immediate clue to the parents. I have to give this author credit. His writing is raw and painfully honest and there were many moments in the beginning of the book that I identified with. Having a special needs child is a shock wave that just doesn't end. It's confusing, terrifying, guilt-inducing and just plain hard. One of his core themes was how do you talk about children with Down Syndrome? What are they? Is this a tragedy that has befallen you? Is this a gift? Are they the sweet, happy little people that most of us like to think they are? Are they doomed to a life of ridicule and health problems? They are all of these things and none of these things. They are children who's future is every bit as mysterious as other "normal" children. Parents of special needs children forget that every child's future is a great unknown. He questions what science will do for Down Syndrome. Will it improve quality of life? Intellect? Life expectancy? Or will advanced testing and people's prejudice cause Down Syndrome to disappear altogether due to terminated pregnancies. And if that's the case, what's the future for those few people still left? All in all, it was an excellent book but I felt like the author spent so much time talking about the shock and discomfort of the diagnosis and the fear and uncertainty that it caused that he never really moved past that. Most of us eventually get to a point of accepting what is instead of what we wanted and we realize that our special children are just like all the "normal" children - delightful, awe-inspiring, funny, infuriating, difficult, stubborn, wily and adored. I felt like the author never really said who and what his chld is. At age 12, she's certainly more than a diagnosis and I felt like the very thing that he was afraid would happen - people seeing diagnosis first and child second - is exactly what he created.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Courtney

    In full disclosure-I know the author of this book. I was lucky enough to meet and get to know George, his wife, and his two daughters back when I was attending OSU in Corvallis, Oregon. I watched his girls Ellie and Laura while finishing my Bachelor's degree and felt privileged to know the whole family. In fact, often times while I was watching the girls, George was working on his writing. I was thrilled to discover his book had been published when I saw the announcement in our OSU alumni magazi In full disclosure-I know the author of this book. I was lucky enough to meet and get to know George, his wife, and his two daughters back when I was attending OSU in Corvallis, Oregon. I watched his girls Ellie and Laura while finishing my Bachelor's degree and felt privileged to know the whole family. In fact, often times while I was watching the girls, George was working on his writing. I was thrilled to discover his book had been published when I saw the announcement in our OSU alumni magazine. I really enjoyed reading about Laura's earliest weeks and months, as I wasn't around at that time and didn't know the depths of what she and her family truly went through. I kept telling Travis over and over as I read the book, "I'm picturing the actual kitchen he's talking about in this chapter" and "I remember how Ellie use to draw what he's describing" and "Oh-he's talking about Laura's sign for TV!" It was strange-to be able to picture the actual people and places described in a non-fiction book. I can strongly related to the passage in which George writes about loosing his father to cancer shortly after Ellie was born, "The sense that my father, like a piece of metal, had simply been ground to sparks-this faded, and memories from before the cancer began to return. I only missed him. I knew how much he would have loved Ellie, how much he would have enjoyed her spirit, her exuberance just behind a scrim of shyness, and wished he could have seen her. It's a feeling renewed by Laura; each new accomplishment evokes his memory, and his loss."

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kathy

    "The Shape of the Eye" is beautifully written and emotionally honest. It gives much needed insight into not only the challenges of parenting a child that is viewed as "different", but also how we as individuals and as a society need do much better in treating everyone as individuals with unique capabilities and gifts. My favorite passage comes near the end of the book when George is attending a conference on Down Syndrome that included many people with Down Syndrome and their families. "I looked "The Shape of the Eye" is beautifully written and emotionally honest. It gives much needed insight into not only the challenges of parenting a child that is viewed as "different", but also how we as individuals and as a society need do much better in treating everyone as individuals with unique capabilities and gifts. My favorite passage comes near the end of the book when George is attending a conference on Down Syndrome that included many people with Down Syndrome and their families. "I looked around the ballroom. Seeing the faces around me, I saw the best reply to Down's mistake: the children looked like their parents. They looked like each other, too, but it was clear that their true brothers and sisters were theirs by blood, not diagnosis. They were, to use Down's phrase, part of the great human family. On my most hopeful days, on the days when my molecules are up to speed, I think that more people will come to share this perspective: that the diagnosis will be a footnote so individuality, and not the other way around; that stories of ordinary lives will come to replace the tragedies and fables still accepted as truth; and that Laura will live in a world where she seems as ordinary to others as she does to us."

  21. 4 out of 5

    Joanne Clarke Gunter

    This is an excellent book about a daughter who has Down syndrome and about her family's struggle to understand and cope with the facts and fictions of her condition. George Estreich, the author and the father of Laura Estreich, is a poet and writer who uses his considerable writing skills to tell this story of a family at first in shock, then in discovery about Laura's medical problems and emerging abilities, and finally in genuine wonder and joy for the different little person among them. In add This is an excellent book about a daughter who has Down syndrome and about her family's struggle to understand and cope with the facts and fictions of her condition. George Estreich, the author and the father of Laura Estreich, is a poet and writer who uses his considerable writing skills to tell this story of a family at first in shock, then in discovery about Laura's medical problems and emerging abilities, and finally in genuine wonder and joy for the different little person among them. In addition to the family story, the author also delves into historical information about John Langdon Down who discovered the condition and for whom it is named, as well into the evolution of how people (including doctors) thought about and reacted to people with Down syndrome, and even how it was discussed. It hasn't been all that many years since people with the condition were described as "mongoloid idiots" and were given little or no chance to develop skills or anything close to a normal life. Because of the author's gift for language and insight, I highly recommend this book.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Erica

    The Shape of the Eye is about George Estreich, a stay-at-home dad and sometimes writer/poet/memoirist. His oldest daughter is absolutely perfect and lovely in every way. However, his younger daughter has Down Syndrome- George really lucked out! Mr. Estreich discovered that he could revamp his career by writing about his daughters with poetic flair. I'm being a bit cruel there but this book is really more about George Estreich than his daughter, Laura, who has Down Syndrome. He describes her medic The Shape of the Eye is about George Estreich, a stay-at-home dad and sometimes writer/poet/memoirist. His oldest daughter is absolutely perfect and lovely in every way. However, his younger daughter has Down Syndrome- George really lucked out! Mr. Estreich discovered that he could revamp his career by writing about his daughters with poetic flair. I'm being a bit cruel there but this book is really more about George Estreich than his daughter, Laura, who has Down Syndrome. He describes her medical issues and even delves into the history of Down Syndrome but after reading this memoir I do not feel like I know Laura at all. Although beautifully written, I am left unsatisfied. Much of this memoir is about Estreich's angsty existence as a stay-at-home-dad, not Down Syndrome, which is why I picked this book up.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Janine

    LOVED this book! The beginning was much like reading about our own lives, but because everyone has a different story it soon diverged. Still, the thoughts are much the same and the author makes so many good points that I found myself silently agreeing throughout. The story is real, raw, but not overly sentimental. It describes exactly how one approaches a diagnosis with his/her head and muddling through medical jargon, and with his/her heart and muddling through raising a child. This book should LOVED this book! The beginning was much like reading about our own lives, but because everyone has a different story it soon diverged. Still, the thoughts are much the same and the author makes so many good points that I found myself silently agreeing throughout. The story is real, raw, but not overly sentimental. It describes exactly how one approaches a diagnosis with his/her head and muddling through medical jargon, and with his/her heart and muddling through raising a child. This book should be required reading for genetic counselors and families who receive a diagnosis of Down syndrome for their children. Thank you George Estreich for this thoughtful memoir!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Leeann

    If possible, I would have given this book a rating between a 2.5 and a 3. I wouldn't go so far as to say I liked it, but it was better than just ok. The beginning of the book is very good, but along the way the author loses me. He delves into topics of research that lost me after a while and he also spent a good bit of time talking about his mother and her past etc. The departures were long enough that the meat of the story was lost for me. I wanted to hear about Laura, how she developed, what s If possible, I would have given this book a rating between a 2.5 and a 3. I wouldn't go so far as to say I liked it, but it was better than just ok. The beginning of the book is very good, but along the way the author loses me. He delves into topics of research that lost me after a while and he also spent a good bit of time talking about his mother and her past etc. The departures were long enough that the meat of the story was lost for me. I wanted to hear about Laura, how she developed, what she liked and didn't like, how it was to parent her. I felt that after the first third to half of the book, mentions of those aspects of their lives were few and far between.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Literary Mama

    Estreich grieves for the "phantom" child, the child he'd imagined through her nine-month gestation. He struggles over how to tell people of Laura's diagnosis, and he worries about the future. Would Laura go to school? Would she have friends? Would she need assistance with everything she did? Read Literary Mama's review of Shape of the Eye here: http://www.literarymama.com/reviews/a... Read our interview with George Estreich here: http://www.literarymama.com/profiles/... Estreich grieves for the "phantom" child, the child he'd imagined through her nine-month gestation. He struggles over how to tell people of Laura's diagnosis, and he worries about the future. Would Laura go to school? Would she have friends? Would she need assistance with everything she did? Read Literary Mama's review of Shape of the Eye here: http://www.literarymama.com/reviews/a... Read our interview with George Estreich here: http://www.literarymama.com/profiles/...

  26. 5 out of 5

    Allison

    This was a very honest book. We begin with the birth of a baby. "Hmmm", says the doctor. "There aren't any other symptoms, but the shape of her eyes suggest Down syndrome." "No", says George, "my mother is Japanese." Then the test results come back positive for Down syndrome and the book is born as well. His writing is very lyrical and honest. His perspective as a stay-at-home dad also puts an interesting spin on things. This book is, in equal measures, a story about Laura and a book about the hi This was a very honest book. We begin with the birth of a baby. "Hmmm", says the doctor. "There aren't any other symptoms, but the shape of her eyes suggest Down syndrome." "No", says George, "my mother is Japanese." Then the test results come back positive for Down syndrome and the book is born as well. His writing is very lyrical and honest. His perspective as a stay-at-home dad also puts an interesting spin on things. This book is, in equal measures, a story about Laura and a book about the history of the syndrome.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kel

    Another book I read on vacation, a beautifully written memoir with an updated afterwords. It is labeled a memoir but it so much more. It is also filled with reflections on medical history, family history and the effects of war, a love story between a father and daughter. Most of all it is about looking a all human beings as individuals and not labels.The Shape of the Eye: A Memoir Another book I read on vacation, a beautifully written memoir with an updated afterwords. It is labeled a memoir but it so much more. It is also filled with reflections on medical history, family history and the effects of war, a love story between a father and daughter. Most of all it is about looking a all human beings as individuals and not labels.The Shape of the Eye: A Memoir

  28. 5 out of 5

    Beverlee

    The Shape of the Eye is a well-written, perceptive account of one family's journey as a family including one daughter with, and one daughter without, Down Syndrome. It is a nice mix of nonfiction, memoir, near-poetry, and persuasive writing. I am taking 1 star away from the rating because I think the book would benefit from some disciplined, tight editing. I highly recommend the book to educators, medical professionals, and anyone with a child! The Shape of the Eye is a well-written, perceptive account of one family's journey as a family including one daughter with, and one daughter without, Down Syndrome. It is a nice mix of nonfiction, memoir, near-poetry, and persuasive writing. I am taking 1 star away from the rating because I think the book would benefit from some disciplined, tight editing. I highly recommend the book to educators, medical professionals, and anyone with a child!

  29. 4 out of 5

    C

    Beautiful, finely-wrought, lyrical, and informative. Acknowledges and bucks all the preconceptions I had when I found out the book was a memoir about the author's daughter's Down Syndrome. Especially interesting sections on race, what constitutes "normal" human functioning, parenting, and the trajectory of illness narratives. Beautiful, finely-wrought, lyrical, and informative. Acknowledges and bucks all the preconceptions I had when I found out the book was a memoir about the author's daughter's Down Syndrome. Especially interesting sections on race, what constitutes "normal" human functioning, parenting, and the trajectory of illness narratives.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Lurana

    I HIGHLY recommend this very fine book by my old friend George Estreich, called "The Shape of the Eye." His story is tender, acerbic, emotional, absurd, and very moving. I think ALL parents will relate to the expectations thwarted, new joys discovered, and new sources of courage found within a family. READ! Enjoy! Pass on! I HIGHLY recommend this very fine book by my old friend George Estreich, called "The Shape of the Eye." His story is tender, acerbic, emotional, absurd, and very moving. I think ALL parents will relate to the expectations thwarted, new joys discovered, and new sources of courage found within a family. READ! Enjoy! Pass on!

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