the next good book


By Jesse Ball


241 pages

What’s it about? A widower learns that he does not have long to live.  He decides to take his adult son on a trip to see the country.  His son has Down’s Syndrome and the father worries about what his son’s life will be like once he passes.  Taking a job with the census, the father and son go out on the road. What did it make me think about? This was such an unusual novel.  The son is at the center of the novel- and yet, all we know of him is what we can glean from the reactions of others.  The author says in the forward, “it occurred to me last month that I would like to write a book about my brother.  I felt, and feel, that people with Down syndrome are not fully understood.  What is in my heart when I consider him and his life is something so tremendous, so full of light, that I thought I must write a book that helps people to see what it is like to know and love a Down syndrome boy or girl.  It is not like what you would expect, and it is not like it is ordinarily portrayed and explained.  It is something else, different than that.”I must confess that the forward was what initially kept me turning the pages when the book seemed difficult. Should I read it? This was a beautiful and sparse story.  It is not an easy read-  you will need to pay attention. This book was quite unexpected.  It was also a bit of work.  I am very glad to have read it though. Quote- “However, out in the world I have come to see that he who looks too hard for any particular thing, though he may find it, will certainly miss the most wondrous and strange things he passes, though they stare him in the face.”

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