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The Boy Who Loved Tornadoes: A Mother's Story    by Randi Davenport order for
Boy Who Loved Tornadoes
by Randi Davenport
Order:  USA  Can
Algonquin, 2010 (2010)

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* *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

This harrowing story will touch the hearts of anyone who has had to deal with a family member or friend struggling with a mental illness. Randi Davenport shares her story of raising an autistic child whose condition changed into a mysterious and far more serious situation when he was fifteen.

Chase began exhibiting mysterious psychiatric behaviors which his doctors couldn't explain. Pursued by terrifying images, unwilling to eat or talk, and unable to recognize his mother, the teenager's new situation caused additional family problems. Not only did the author worry about her son and his safety, but she also worried about her daughter and how she would weather this tumultuous family upheaval.

The emotional narrative not only chronicles the author's efforts to keep her family on an even keel and deal with a child who was on the brink of suicide, but it also chronicles her struggle to find a way of helping her troubled child.

The emotional roller coaster Davenport was riding was exacerbated by doctors who couldn't agree on what was going on with Chase, insurance companies who refused to pay for treatments, and treatments that actually made her boy's condition worse.

'The saddest part of the story is how common it is,' writes Davenport. 'We simply do not do a good job of caring for individuals who suffer diseases we stigmatize ... We accept unsatisfactory solutions ... If you have a family member with a mental illness, you should not have to be an extraordinary advocate in order to provide him or her with basic care.'

This story about a mother's unconditional love, the struggle to care for both her children and the obstacles that called for a Herculean effort to get through a family crisis many parents would have crumbled under is one you won't soon forget. Fortunately, the author's family does survive this difficult time so as you read it remember there will eventually be light at the end of the tunnel!

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