I was pleased to be asked a couple of weeks ago to review Kathy Deyer Bolduc's new book Autism & Alleluias, as part of a blog-publicity tour thrown by her publisher Judson Press. I always love to get a new book in the mail, and the title resonated with the God Sightings theme that runs through my own blog.
In Autism & Alleluias, Bolduc shares "a love story" -- love of God and of her son Joel, a young man who has autism as well as intellectual disabilities and an anxiety disorder. In a series of short 3-5 page vignettes and poems, she offers gently faith-infused glimpses into life with Joel, starting not long before his autism diagnosis as he stands at the cusp of adolescence and concluding as he moves into his early 20s.
Each chapter / reflection / meditation begins with scripture and ends with a prayer. In between, she and Joel encounter the challenges of life in school and church and community, but also grace (alleluias) in unexpected places:
- an Easter visitor who shares a new perspective on disability
- a talented aide who composes a special song for Joel on the spot
- Joel's own vocal and enthusiastic worship style (which fits better into some congregations than others!)
- a poignant reminder from Joel himself that "We need Jesus."
The chapters not only have the cadence of a daily devotional, but also that of blog posts. (I am reminded particularly of Autism in a Word, from my dear friend Rhemashope.) With Autism & Alleluias, it feels as if we're getting the "best of" nuggets of 12 years of reflective blogging (or journaling), in one 140-page swoop! Since I blog from a desktop (and don't carry an iPhone), I was able to carry the book to places I don't blog-read, like the bus. I found myself with the impulse to post a comment after some of the chapters -- I guess that's what book groups are for.
I have not read either of the author's two earlier books, His Name is Joel: Searching for God in a Son's Disability (1999), or A Place Called Acceptance: Ministry with Families of Children with Disabilities (2001), but have them on my list now. Meanwhile, you can visit her website at http://www.kathleenbolduc.com/ if you'd like more information.