cover image The Able Life of Cody Jane: Still Celebrating

The Able Life of Cody Jane: Still Celebrating

Marly Cornell. LightaLight (Itasca, dist.), $14.95 trade paper (319p) ISBN 978-0-9831777-0-8

As a young woman, Cornell (Walks on the Beach with Angie co-written with Don Warner) experienced the horror of hearing, moments after giving birth to a baby, that her daughter "might not live." Cody Jane had spina bifida, a congenital birth defect that can lead to infection, paralysis, brain damage, or death. But Cornell had looked into her newborn's eyes, had seen that, "whatever physical problems she might have, she was fine," and was determined to be a good mother and fought for Cody Jane on numerous fronts, including advocating for the right doctors and surgeries, and ensuring that her daughter wasn't forced into a school for mentally handicapped children. Much space is devoted to the medical and psychological reality of mothering someone living with a shunt, but what also emerges is Cody Jane's growth into a unique, funny, and independent young woman involved in a romantic relationship (Cornell doesn't gloss over the fact that her own relationships, including two marriages, crumbled; Cody Jane's biological father left to become a monk). Cornell couldn't do everything for and be everything to Cody Jane, and her guilt is apparent. Her perspective on raising a child with severe disabilities (which includes reminders of the importance of counseling) is important, and stands as a loving tribute. Published with the support of the Spina Bifida Association. (May)