Nothing Special (Kobo eBook)

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This account of two siblings, one with Down syndrome, growing up in 1970s Connecticut is “rich in character, humor, hard-earned insights, and love” (Rachel Simon, author of Riding the Bus with My Sister).

Nothing Special is a disarmingly candid tale of two sisters growing up in the 1970s in rural Connecticut. Older sister Chris, who has Down syndrome, is an extrovert with a knack for getting what she wants, while the author, her younger, typically developing sister, shoulders the burdens and grief of her parents, especially their father’s alcoholism.

Dianne Bilyak details wrestling with their mixed emotions in vignettes that range from heartrending to laugh-out-loud funny, including anecdotes about Chris’s habit of faux-smoking Popsicle sticks or partying through the night with her invisible friends. Poet and disability advocate Bilyak strikes a rare balance between poignant and hilarious as she paints a compassionate and critical real-world picture of their lives. They struggle, separately and together, with the tension between dependence and independence, the complexities of giving versus receiving, the pressure to live as others expect, and in the end, the wonderful liberation of self-acceptance.

“With charming specificity and hilarity, Bilyak writes frankly about her own identity, and that of her sister’s, comparing her own self-consciousness with her sister’s striking lack thereof . . . Bilyak hits home something that we so badly need to hear right now: that people with disabilities are not a monolith, and that there is no perfect way to love or be loved by them.” —Bekah Brunstetter, writer and producer for NBC’s This is Us

Product Details
ISBN-13: 9780819580306
Publisher: Wesleyan University Press
Publication Date: September 3rd, 2012