Thursday, January 01, 2009
Book Review: Rex
Rex is the inspiring story of an blind autistic musical savant and the mother who poured her life into making sure he had one. Cathleen Lewis spent her young adult days as a student at Sanford and as a worker in the financial markets in Paris. In her late thirties she moved to California, met Mr. Wonderful, married him and got pregnant. Near the end of her pregnancy, a cyst was found on the baby’s brain. Luckily it could be drained through surgery. Unluckily, it turned out to be only the beginning of her baby Rex’s problems. First, they noticed that he could not see. Ophthalmologists confirmed that the retinal nerve was underdeveloped and that in all likelihood, he’d be blind all his life. His parents enrolled him in a preschool program for the blind and his mother quit her job to maximize her time with him. As he failed to develop normally, even for a blind child, further tests revealed further problems. Life was one long series of discoveries of things Rex could not do--until his father, who had separated from his mother, bought him a keyboard for his second birthday. Rex proved to be a musical savant. He played by ear and was able to reproduce complex melodies after hearing them only one time. At the piano he was able to physically do things he was unable to do away from it.
Rex was written by his mother and is told from her point of view. As the mother of a special needs child, I can identify with seeing hopes for normalcy dropped one by one as the extent of the disability becomes more clear. I’ve been at the IEP meetings she describes so well. I’ve met the teachers who were willing to go out of their way to help my child, and those who resented my requests that they handle my son differently. Cathleen Lewis also writes of the spiritual journey for which her son was a catalyst. I’ve read that great trials in life often either make people reach out for God or cause them to lose whatever faith they might once have had. Lewis found God and can see how her son has drawn her closer to Him.
I loved this book and highly recommend it.