Wednesday, April 29, 2009

That Went Well by Terrell Harris Dougan

Terrell Harris Dougan, a former columnist for the Deseret News and winner of the National Federation of Press Women's Best Humor Column award, covers more than six decades of her life living with and caring for her younger sister Irene in That Went Well: Adventures in Caring for My Sister. Irene was born with mental disabilities, and tests showed that she has an IQ of 57 and an emotional age of 3. Caring for Irene is a major challenge, given her temper tantrums and sometimes violent outbursts, but Dougan stepped up to the plate and eventually became an advocate for the mentally disabled. She even went as far as designing a private home program for Irene when all the other places she lived after leaving their parents' home didn't work out.

Dougan expresses frustration at times, but she focuses on acceptance. Her love for Irene shines through in her writing, and it's obvious that she doesn't want people to feel sorry for them. Dougan has a happy life with her husband, children, and grandchildren, and despite her disability, Irene is happy and loved by many people. Dougan tells stories about Irene in a humorous tone, from trying to buy a shopping cart full of candy for just $2 to stealing pricey oils from the incense factory where she worked to sell for $1 in a yard sale. Just as people reach out to her, Irene reaches out to others, and I loved reading about Irene's desire to bring Christmas presents to children in the hospital.

I don't read a lot of memoirs, but I'm glad I read That Went Well. Dougan's writing flows as though she's sitting right next to you reminiscing, and when I turned the last page, I felt like I'd known her and Irene for years. The book made me think about happiness and what it means to different people and our expectations for others. It gave me a new respect for the mentally disabled and their caregivers. Readers with friends or relatives with mental disabilities definitely will want to pick up this book, but I think That Went Well is an important read for everyone in that it aims to raise awareness of people with special needs.

Visit Terrell Harris Dougan's website, That Went Well, for more information about the book, a reading group guide, and resources for people with disabilities.

That Went Well also was reviewed by:

At Home With Books
Bermudaonion's Weblog
Janel's Jumble
Find Your Next Book Here

If you've also reviewed it, let me know in the comments, and I'll add your link!

Disclosure:  I received a free copy of That Went Well from Author Marketing Experts, Inc. for review purposes.


bermudaonion said...

I really enjoyed this book, too. It really made me think.

Serena said...

We've already talked about this book in detail, but I still will read it...maybe this summer during my self-imposed ban on blog tours.

Literary Feline said...

This sounds like an interesting book. One of my cousin's is developmentally disabled and her siblings continue to take an active role in advocating and caring for her still today.

Toni said...

Sounds like a good one! Thanks for the recommendation.

Missy B. said...

Great review...this one sounds like one I would like to read.

Alyce said...

I thought this was a good read too. Great review!

Unknown said...

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Angela said...

Thanks for the review. That looks like an interesting book.

Anna said...

Bermudaonion: Glad to hear it. Actually, I think your review was where I first heard of this book.

Serena: Just let me know, and you can borrow my copy.

Literary Feline: I think you and your cousin's siblings would get a lot out of this book. Let me know if you ever read it.

Toni: You're welcome!

Missy: Thanks! Let me know if you do read it.

Alyce: Thanks! I remember that you liked it, and yours and a few other reviews I read helped me make my decision about accepting a review copy.

Lilly: Thanks!

Angie: Hope you get a chance to read it at some point.