This is the true story of Cornell Richardson, who was born three and a half months early, at one-pound, nine-ounces. The severity of his issues gave him little chance for survival, let alone for a normal life.
He spent the first six months of his life in the NICU and was then moved to a ventilator-dependent unit at The Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters. On that unit, a young Occupational Therapist named Kim Cranham began to care for him. She saw things in Cornell that many of the doctors didn't. Against their recommendations, she persuaded her husband to bring Cornell home as their foster child. On February 2, 1994, after two months of training to care for his advanced needs, they brought him home.
This is an up-from-the-ashes story of incredible courage, persistence, and inspiration. It is a story of how a young couple started a journey to help a sick little boy, and in the process, he dramatically changed the trajectory of their lives. While written as a chronological memoir over 25 years, it is filled with the principles they learned from Cornell that have led to a more happy, peaceful, and content life.
Cranham writes movingly of the adopted son who flourished despite every grim prognosis. Powerful prose invites readers to meet a special needs child who has never wasted an opportunity to be grateful for the blessings he has, and, rather than dwelling on his physical and mental challenges, has taught his family—indeed, everyone he meets—about the power of gratitude. Sadly, the family—who are white—have also encountered prejudice for having adopted a Black child, but they strive to model Cornell’s grace and kindly reeducate the small minded.
At 25, Cornell started a search for his twin sister, culminating in an emotional reunion that will leave nary a dry eye among readers. Random word capitalization in several places distracts, but can’t mitigate the power of this narrative. Cornell’s optimism and bravery is a love letter to the resilience of the human spirit, as his father notes. “Cornell was put on this Earth to inspire people. I hope, after reading this, that he has the same effect on you,” Cranham writes. And he will, in this emotional tour de force suited to anyone who needs a little inspiration.
Takeaway: Readers of this father’s inspiring memoir of a foster son beating the odds will be counting their blessings through their tears.
Great for fans of: Marie Killilea’s Karen, Linda Atwell’s Loving Lindsey: Raising a Daughter with Special Needs, Martha N. Beck’s Expecting Adam: A True Story of Birth, Rebirth and Everyday Magic, Vicki Forman’s This Lovely Life.
Design and typography: B+
Marketing copy: B+