Title: Letter to Louis
Author: Alison White
Published: January 2018
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Pages: 352 Pages
Rating: Five Stars
About the book
This is a memoir about hope – hope in others, hope in systems, and hope for the future.
I’ve never quite known where to begin when someone asks me what I’ve been up to. I’ve never quite known how to explain what our daily life is like. I wanted to write how it is in order to give others a greater understanding of disability and caring. And to be totally honest, I wanted to write something that would make people consider being Louis’s friend.
So here is me introducing you: Louis, this is your story. Readers, this is my son.
Alison’s memoir is beautifully written; fresh, tender and transparent in feeling. Reading it felt like unraveling a love letter nestled in soft baby blue tissue, written to a son, rather than a book.
Each chapter represents a year of Louis’s life beginning with Alison’s undetected preeclampsia, her horrendous cesarean and the subsequent mounting life altering evidence that her son has severe disabilities.
We read what life is like for a family living with a disabled child. Brace yourself for the thoughtless and hurtful remarks from those around them, including from those in the caring profession.
During Alison’s tenacious search to find the right help and treatment for her son, she faces frustrations with the many ‘professionals’ not willing to listen. But there is relief from those who do listen and who would – importantly – look at and then beyond their textbooks to try to determine the specific needs that would help Louis to thrive.
Her memoir also highlights the false economy that the health system seems to sleepwalk into time and time again: deny or slow down assistance towards progress and in the long term, all parties pay heavily. Just imagine the additional continuing costs to the health service had Louis’s parents not strived to make Louis as independent as he can be, never mind the cost of the collateral damage and strain on the rest of the family’s health? What would have happened if the parents had burnt themselves right out? And it sounds like they came really close.
But this is not a downbeat book. The family’s indefatigable spirit shapes Louis. You feel their weight, but what’s most heavy is their hope. And they understand the power of laughter.
Laugh hard heal faster. The whole family grasps this, with Louis leading and showing them just exactly how.
Click on the link below to find out more about Alison White’s memoir: