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Dana Jones-Meggett
He Ain't Heavy (He's My Son) Part II
He Ain’t Heavy (He’s My Son) Part II is a book about a mother’s journey in raising her now adult son who is a man of color and on the autism spectrum. It is indeed an inspirational story but also serves as a guide and resource for parents, human service professionals, first responders, educators, religious leaders, or curious minds on how to (or not to) interact with someone on the spectrum or with disabilities. It is also a call to action for all of us to do our part in making the world a more inclusive and compassionate place.
Centered on the childhood of her son who has been diagnosed with autism, Jones-Meggett’s sequel to her first memoir, published 13 years ago, offers a frank discussion of skin color, disability, and societal prejudice. She briefly covers her son’s initial diagnosis but focuses mainly on their journey together from his early adolescence to young adulthood. Written in part as a manual for caretakers of individuals with disabilities, this helpful guide is also a strong piece of literary advocacy for the voiceless, as Jones-Meggett states, “I am literally my son’s voice.” She skillfully balances emotion and facts to delve into her life as someone who has devoted her entire self to caring for another person with a disability in a society where, as she puts it, people have long been “identified and even taunted because of their condition.”

Readers will be inspired by Jones-Meggett’s tenacity, as she strives for the best for her son, and also comforted by her vulnerability as she faces loss. She writes, “unlike a death, there is no closure with ambiguous loss, just a feeling of revisiting or being stuck in profound grief.” This follow-up touches on sociocultural issues that impact persons with disabilities as well, and Jones-Meggett’s focus on inclusion and respect is evident throughout. The narrative is split into easy-to-follow sections that will resonate with readers, and the backmatter includes helpful resources for families who may be facing similar challenges.

Jones-Meggett has crafted a clear-eyed, sometimes inspiring account of navigating a bigoted world, writing effectively and without malice, maintaining her focus on progress and advocacy. Readers will gain insight into caring for those living with disabilities, and a deeper understanding and heightened empathy. Readers will walk away from this book deeply affected by the unfairness in the world and with a changed outlook regarding what is ability, what’s valuable in society, and who decides the answers to these questions.

Takeaway: A poignant guide and memoir that addresses autism, race, and caring for a loved one with disabilities.

Great for fans of: Jennifer Cook O’Toole’s Autism in Heels, John Elder Robison’s Look Me In the Eye.

Production grades
Cover: B+
Design and typography: B+
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: B+
Marketing copy: A