cover image Writing with Grace: A Journey Beyond Down Syndrome

Writing with Grace: A Journey Beyond Down Syndrome

Judy McFarlane. Douglas & McIntyre (Publishers Group West, U.S. dist.; HarperCollins Canada, Canadian dist.), $22.95 trade paper (208p) ISBN 978-1-77162-025-3

Vancouver-based author McFarlane chronicles her passage from ignorance and antipathy to empathy and affection in the moving story of her friendship with Grace Chen, a young woman with Down syndrome who wants to be a writer. When a mutual friend suggests that McFarlane help Grace with her writing, McFarlane feels "a flat edge of fear." She's never met anyone with Down syndrome and assumes that Grace will be dull-witted and unpredictable. But Grace, McFarlane discovers, is nothing like this: she attended high school, is an avid reader, and enjoys talking about writing. Startled by the assumptions she made, and with much trepidation, McFarlane decides to work with Grace. Readers will be glad that she did. As she gets to know Grace, McFarlane delves into the disturbing history of the treatment of Down syndrome and eventually travels to China, where Grace was born, to meet Grace's extended family and the grandfather who believed she should have been institutionalized. McFarlane's insightful prose, her willingness to examine her own prejudices, and the obvious delight she ultimately finds with Grace make McFarlane's story a thought-provoking, inspiring one that others will want to experience. Agent: Carolyn Forde, Westwood Creative Artists. (Oct.)