New book: A Good and Perfect Gift: Faith, Expectations, and a Little Girl Named Penny, by Amy Julia Truesdell Becker ’98 (Bethany House)
The author: A graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary, Becker writes about family, faith, disability, and culture. She blogs at patheos.com and her writing has been featured on The New York Times’ parenting blog, Motherlode. She also is the author of Penelope Ayers: A Memoir.
The book: After Becker’s first child, Penny, was born with Down syndrome, she had to rethink everything she had imagined for her daughter’s future. “In the beginning, I had a hard time accepting that Penny had Down syndrome because I thought it was unfair,” Becker said. “I had to let go of any expectations I had formed about who she ought to be and instead learn to receive her as who she is.” A Good and Perfect Gift chronicles Becker’s journey through her daughter’s first years of life as Becker struggles to find her footing as a parent of a child with special needs. In the end, it’s a story of a couple coming to terms with their first-born child being different than they anticipated, and looking at Penny as a precious gift.
Opening lines: “If only we had waited. If only I were due in the summer. Then I could have finished school. Then Peter would have three months free from teaching. Having this baby in June instead of January, that would make sense.
“I jerked the car out of the parking lot and rested one hand on top of my round belly. As I drove past a little white church and a deli and a graveyard, I had a thought — and it was so powerful it was more like hearing than thinking — But if you had waited, then you wouldn’t have had this child.”
Review: “This beautifully written text explores how Becker and her husband deal with the news of having a child with a disability and the transformation they undergo as time passes. Each journal entry opens a new chapter of Penny’s growth, and with every change in Penny comes a corresponding response of grateful joy in everyone else. Becker’s work is introspective and theologically inquisitive,” wrote Publishers Weekly.
Read more: Becker’s essay in the June 2, 2010 issue of PAW.