Picks and Pans Review: We Have Been There

updated 03/21/1983 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/21/1983 AT 01:00 AM EST

compiled by Terrell Dougan, Lyn Isbell and Patricia Vyas

The 35 people who contributed to this powerful book, including Dougan, Isbell and Vyas, are parents or siblings of retarded children. There is even a brief essay by a young woman who is retarded. Their stories are painful, startling, engrossing. The insensitivities of some social agencies and doctors are astonishing; so is the amount of red tape involved. One woman describes a protracted series of visits to a Social Security office and concludes with the hope that "maybe this will all be simpler someday.... If your trips to the Social Security office have some peculiarities, laugh at them and keep plodding onward." A couple's session with a school staff and a psychologist who patronizingly quizzes them about the cause of their daughter's disability is a horrifying tale of sheer meanness. The organizers of this book provide a wide range of experiences—and emotions—that offer much more than mere comfort to any reader who might have a similar problem. The book is inspirational when it deals with the grit of day-to-day coping. It is least effective when one contributor attempts humor, such as an imagined conversation with God on the impossible question: "Why me?" (Abingdon, $9.95)

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