Author Katherine J. Perreth
Publication Date September 17th 2013
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This award-winning tale of triumphant woe chronicles the spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical effects on a family after seven-year-old Ben is found in a coma. Despite Ben's ensuing struggles with myriad disabilities and mental health issues, love wins. Narrated with irrepressible humor by the quirky mom, the story follows sixteen years of trauma and victory, culminating with Ben's invitation to Washington DC.
I would like to begin my review Making Lemonade with Ben by Katherine Perreth by saying that I am 31 and disabled. I was born with left-sided cerebral palsy with my arm being completely paralyzed. Also, at the age of 16 I had brain surgery, disconnecting the left hemisphere due to life threatening intractable epilepsy. Therefore, due to the subject matter of Making Lemonade With Ben, I went in thinking I would be reading an inspirational novel of a family’s experience — oh how wrong I was. I found Katherine Perreth’s book to be demeaning, offensive, and self-serving.
Impressions While Reading
First, it bothered me that Katherine Perreth’s description of her son was always prefaced with a mention of his disability and “withered hand”. I thought that it gave the sense that he was defined by it. I also felt that the author consistently intimated that being a stay at home parent was a burden and asked the reader to feel sorry for her. I took this personally as my mother was a stay at home parent in part to care for her disabled child; it is difficult, yes, but Perreth’s woe-is-me attitude only made me angry rather than sympathetic.
Ben himself seemed like an upbeat guy; but despite his name being in the title, the novel mainly revolved around his mother curled up in the fetal position, and if a drinking game had been played each time this happened, I would be under the table in minutes.
Lastly, while I understand the author wanted to give a full picture of her life, I would have liked the focus to be on her son’s health rather than the off-handed excursions that peppered the novel. I am not trying to say her encounter with Johnny Depp wasn’t interesting I just didn’t think it was relevant to the story she was trying to convey.
Impressions on the Writing
It wasn’t just the story but the writing that bothered me as well. The over usage of donchaknow became irksome and grated on my eyes. There is also an abundance of abbreviations, both medical and of her own personal creation. Due to my background, I did know a few of them, such as IEP and EEG, but as a whole there were too many to keep straight for someone who is not personally associated with them. I would have much preferred said abbreviations to be written out rather than feeling the need to flip back to the glossary for a refresher course.
I do not mean for this to be a personal attack, and because of my own experience may be more severe, but I did feel that the title of the book, Making Lemonade with Ben: the audacity to cope was misrepresented. Instead of lemonade I received only sour lemons.