Coping Through It All

A mother chronicles her experience raising a child with disabilities

At times sorrowful and hopeful, harsh and hilarious, in Making Lemonade With Ben: The Audacity to Cope (CreateSpace, $16.95) Katherine J. Perreth shares the story of a 1996 brain hemorrhage that left her seven-year-old with lifelong disabilities.

Perreth, of Middleton, draws on journals, correspondence, medical records and memory to grimly recount how she and her husband put their son, Ben, to bed, found him unresponsive and said good-byes before committing him to brain surgery at UW Hospital. Years of rehab followed as Ben relearned how to talk and walk.

Alternating current and flashback chapters give readers positives to hang onto amid the darkness. From the start, they know that Ben, now in his twenties, is headed to the White House to help collect an award for the Madison Children’s Museum.

With wry humor that lightens but also wrenches depending on the moment, Perreth shares the effects on her marriage and younger children and salutes those who held them up, particularly mental health advocates at Madison’s Yahara House. 

Karyn Saemann is a Madison-based freelance writer, editor and book reviewer.

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