A Boy Beyond Reach : Dr Cheri Florance

Children's Book Reviews

This is the moving and very readable tale of a mother and her third son, who was born locked in a brain that walled him off from the world. Ironically, the boy in question, Whitney, couldn’t have asked for a more appropriate mother. Florance was already a renowned brain doctor and communications expert when her son was born.

But despite the knowledge and expertise she’d accrued, she was encouraged to give up on the boy, a deaf mute who seemed insensitive to pain and indifferent to other people. Whitney’s paediatrician diagnosed him as having the severest form of autism and suggested Florance visualise his problems by seeing her son as an alien from another planet.

Reluctant to give up, Florance spent the next ten years trying to reach out to Whitney. Her first breakthrough came when he was five and she heard him laughing out loud at a Disney film – she realised his vocal chords did work after all.

This ultimately uplifting story is a well-written and inspiring account of one mother’s struggle to awaken her child to the world. Along the way she had to take many tough decisions – especially when she was told the courts would take the boy away and institutionalise him.

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