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THE UNFINISHED CHILD: A Novel ~Theresa Shea

Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

“Her mother’s words came back to her.  It’s a woman’s lot in life to bear the shame. But why should it be?  Why didn’t men carry the burden of their own bad behaviors?”


THE UNFINISHED CHILD is a very sensitive read about the moral and technical dimensions of sharing life with a child with Down’s Syndrome.  This is a fictional story so it can tell a bigger story and fill us in on the thought processes, the feelings, the hopes and dreams and the historic experiences.  This book is also a story about mothers and how they parent, what they tell their daughters about being a mother, and what they withhold; the secrets behind the scenes to the conversational outcomes.  This is a well-researched story about hope with sensitivity to the rose petal delicacy of each individual’s patterns of emotion.

Elizabeth and Marie are best friends.  Marie is a fulltime mom to two delightful daughters and discovers she is pregnant at age thirty nine; this pregnancy feels very different from the previous two.  Elizabeth owns a florist shop and has been attempting to have a baby for 17 years with no positive results; she was adopted as an infant but will not consider adoption as an option for herself.  Marriages are put to the test and friendship becomes difficult as these women sort out what they will be and do next in their lives.

There is a third mother highlighted in THE UNFINISHED CHILD – Margaret.  Margaret was raped as a young girl on her family farm by the doctor’s son and learns about classism and shame.  After she is married her first born daughter is born with Down’s syndrome and is institutionalized under doctor’s recommendations within a few days of birth.  Shame, classism, and medical – technical issues enter into the story line, in the 1940s, this is just the way life happened.  There were few studies, people did not know what to do, and they expected the infant to be sickly, mentally retarded, and survival rates low.  Margaret and her daughter inspire a newly minted doctor to learn more and provide hope.   Children with Down’s were referred to as UNFINISHED CHILDREN.

Raw complex feelings are explored in these three women, the reader uncovers the complexities of feelings and actions surrounded by the pressures and expectations put upon the role of being a mother and developing a family spirit.  It is honest and searching and THE UNFINISHED CHILD will definitely touch your heart.

What a dynamic book group discussion starter, there are so many avenues to explore, including self-exploration of feelings.  How do these ideas and concepts fit into community and society?  What is it that we tell our children – our daughters?

“Read not to contradict and confute, nor to believe and take for granted…but to weigh and consider.”  Francis Bacon.

Theresa Shea on Facebook.  Shea was born in Maryland and now resides in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada with her husband and three children “Having come to motherhood relatively late, Shea has always been particularly sensitive to the technological and moral issues surrounding women’s choices regarding childbirth.”

Related:
Incendiary Girls
Our Love Could Light The World
Coincidence 
The Moon Sisters

tlc logo TLC Online Book Tours shared a copy of this book for me to review.  The depth and width of this story encouraged me to let you know about – THE UNFINISHED CHILD.

Would you purchase a book that was a story about Down’s syndrome and infertility?  Do you find it helpful to read about life dilemmas and the resolutions?

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