This Boy We Made: A Memoir of Motherhood, Genetics, and Facing the Unknown - book cover
Community & Culture
  • Publisher : Catapult
  • Published : 11 Jan 2022
  • Pages : 272
  • ISBN-10 : 1948226847
  • ISBN-13 : 9781948226844
  • Language : English

This Boy We Made: A Memoir of Motherhood, Genetics, and Facing the Unknown

A Black mother bumps up against the limits of everything she thought she believed-about science and medicine, about motherhood, and about her faith-in search of the truth about her son.

One morning, Tophs, Taylor Harris's round-cheeked, lively twenty-two-month-old, wakes up listless, only lifting his head to gulp down water. She rushes Tophs to the doctor, ignoring the part of herself, trained by years of therapy for generalized anxiety disorder, that tries to whisper that she's overreacting. But at the hospital, her maternal instincts are confirmed: something is wrong with her boy, and Taylor's life will never be the same.

With every question the doctors answer about Tophs's increasingly troubling symptoms, more arise, and Taylor dives into the search for a diagnosis. She spends countless hours trying to navigate health and education systems that can be hostile to Black mothers and children; at night she googles, prays, and interrogates her every action.
Some days, her sweet, charismatic boy seems just fine; others, he struggles to answer simple questions. A long-awaited appointment with a geneticist ultimately reveals nothing about what's causing Tophs's drops in blood sugar, his processing delays-but it does reveal something unexpected about Taylor's own health. What if her son's challenges have saved her life?
This Boy We Made is a stirring and radiantly written examination of the bond between mother and child, full of hard-won insights about fighting for and finding meaning when nothing goes as expected.

Editorial Reviews

"Taylor Harris has masterfully captured the wonder and weight of the endurance race that is motherhood. Mothering in the face of illness and uncertainty as a Black woman is downright Olympian. Harris' beautiful, crisp prose drew me right into her family's journey. Their story is heart-wrenching, hopeful, and truly unforgettable." -Deesha Philyaw, author The Secret Lives of Church Ladies

"Moving . . . Wholehearted and captivating." -Bust

"[A] stunning debut . . . Heartfelt and raw . . . Out of that uncertainty grew a love and calmness that Harris couldn't have foreseen, and a story of acceptance that mesmerizes with its vulnerability . . . This is astounding." -Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"The author deploys humor and delight to infuse the narrative with nuance and hope, and her frank, vulnerable voice makes the book feel like a conversation with a close friend . . . A compelling, insightful memoir about parenting through the unknown." -Kirkus Reviews

"Part parenting memoir, part spiritual guide, part anti-racist hymn, This Boy We Made is a captivating, necessary story for our time. With grace, humor, and truth, Taylor Harris shows us how to live-and love-inside life's vast question marks. Her sentences glow and sing. She is the warm, witty, wise companion we all need in a life filled with uncertainty." -Heather Lanier, author of Raising a Rare Girl

"Taylor Harris takes us on an unforgettable journey through the impossible tangles of America's healthcare system and lets us see firsthand all tiers of stakes that come with Black motherhood in this America. Disability, race, gender, class-every failing of our society and its frustrating promises of our security and freedom is examined here with clarity, courage, and so much love. The admiration I have for Harris extends far beyond her outstanding skills as a writer even-the blessing of her heart and mind truly transcend any ordinary reading experience! This is one of the most necessary entries in the medical/disability memoir canon yet." -Porochista Khakpour, author of the acclaimed memoir Sick

"My rule to read everything Taylor Harris writes has never failed me. With wisdom, earnestness, and no small amount of humor, she reflects on parenthood and all of the unanswerable questions it raises, exploring what it means to love a child precious to but distinct from you; to wonder about mysteries you may never solve and a future you cannot possibly know. This Boy We Made is a courageous, exquisite memoir, one that will inspire and help readers understand how we can brave the unknown while living in hope." -Nicole Chung, author of All You Can Ever Know: A Memoir

"As Taylor Harris guides us through the bureaucratic and emotion...