A Life Beyond Reason: A Father’s Memoir by Chris Gabbard


This is an amazing memoir; written by the father of a child with multiple severe disabilities. I was attracted to the book because the first part covers his wife’s pregnancy and the birth of their son, born in March 1999. It takes place in San Francisco. There are some names changed. I think the reader will be able to figure out which doctors and hospitals were involved in the story. The author and his wife are well educated and did everything they could to guarantee a successful pregnancy. It seemed to me after reading the book as a parent, it seems mistakes were made in directing labor and delivery and the baby needed resuscitation. They asked for an explanation and no one wanted to talk to them or give them information. He is a wonderful writer and I was immersed in his detailed beautiful writing and was surprised and pleased to read on page 50, the following: “A Bay Area group, Support for Families of Children with Disabilities, assigned Ilene (mom) to a mentor, Betty Lituanio, and Betty laid it on the line in the strongest possible terms……” In this paragraph the names were not changed.

The book address the stresses that the parents faced searching for help for their son. When the Bay Area became too expensive, they moved to Florida. The author became a stay-at-home dad and an Associate College Professor, working part time. His wife worked full-time. Even though their son had multiple disabilities, he liked to move in his walker and laughed when happy and comfortable. Feelings flow through the book. Love is present from the beginning and is the anchor of the family as fear, anxiety, grief,  hope and growth swirl around them.

I recommend this book to parents, professionals and students training to work with  families.

Elaine Butler, Librarian