Monday, September 10, 2007

Me time.

Caucasian woman, late 30s, wearing blue and white striped men's shirt, collar up, and jeans, cuffs rolled loosely, toes bared to shag carpet, one leg tucked up underneath her thigh. The world outside sways in a crisp fall breeze, the bay curling up in baby waves clipping at one another's heels, the leaves fading two shades as rain approaches.

Dear Gabriel, Halfdan W. Freihow (House of Anansi Press)

Page 3:

We need a wall at our backs, you and me. Sometimes a stroke from the palm of a hand is enough. At other times we need to erect huge edifices of insight and comprehension in order not to fall, plunge into bewilderment, foolishness, and fear. At time we are each other's wall, sometimes you are mine, but often I have to be yours alone, for you stumble and fall so easily. And sometimes that scares me, Gabriel, when I have nothing to hold on to myself, nothing to cling to, only wind and light and open sea, and you tumble beyond any comprehension.

An early Saturday morning, 1982. She sprints the bend of an outdoor track, ADIDAS shorts sliding up her thighs, arms pumping her forward. Behind her, the sound of his feet slapping the pavement, his breaths peeling into high squeals as she slows down to let him pass. He blazes by, jaw determined, and crosses the finish line first, the oversized chocolate coin hanging down his back on the length of red ribbon his baby sister used to tie the hair of her Cabbage Patch doll.

Halfan W. Freihow's Dear Gabriel is a deeply moving and elegantly written confessional in the form of a letter from a father to his young autistic son. With great love, pride, and a profound wonder, Freihow describes a complex, loving relationship with young Gabriel that is sometimes fraught with misunderstanding, but bolstered by unconditional love. His sensitive depiction of the haunting rural landscape in which the family lives serves as a powerful backdrop to the intimate prose of his letter and rich sense of childhood magic.

Dear Gabriel reaches out to all parents in their struggle to understand and nurture their children, regardless of any obstacles that may stand in their way. It is a tender yet brutally honest testament to love and the parent-child relationship.

I don't use this space to post reviews, but this is an exception. Dear Gabriel is beautiful, brave and necessary. Freihow magnificently captures the tension between his need to reason--to open his world wide, using his language--his role as caregiver to young Gabriel, and the needs of Gabriel who requires reason delivered in a language so specific it must be cut up like bits of meat on a plate. I've scribbled out and emailed more passages from this book than any other in recent history. It's hard and honest and inspiring and loving. Best of all, it shows up. It's family.

No comments: