Where’s Beth?

Some readers of Love You to Pieces will wonder why I didn’t include Beth Kephart, author of the award-winning and extremely poetic memoir A Slant of Sun, about being a new mom with an autistic son.  This book is one of the first concerning parenting a disabled child that I read, and Kephart writes so beautifully, that each sentence was like a string of pearls.

Okay, here’s the answer:  she turned me down.   When I first came up with the idea of putting together of collection of literature on raising a child with special needs, I sent her a message asking if she’d be willing to contribute.  She responded that she had moved beyond writing about her son’s special needs, and that they were no longer such an issue; he has learned to function in the world.  It’s possible that she was giving me a gentle brush off.  After all, she didn’t know who I was or what kind of a book I would ultimately come up with or who would publish it.  If she had suggested that I excerpt her memoir, I probably would have, but I wanted to respect her wishes.  By the way, if you haven’t read A Slant of Sun, you should.

I also contacted Bret Lott, whom I’d met a writer’s conference in South Carolina.  We’d both contributed book reviews to Manoa, and we talked about that a little, so he had something to remember me by.  At any rate, Bret wrote that my idea sounded like a good one, that he’d be happy to be a part of it, and that he was confident I’d find a publisher.  This was all before Jewel,  inspired by an aunt with Down syndrome, became an Oprah pick, but I feel quite sure that he would have said “yes” even after.










3 thoughts on “Where’s Beth?

  1. Hi Suzanne, I lent my copy of LYTP to a friend. I put it in her box at school, and when I ran into her a couple of hours later, I knew she’d started reading it because of the stricken look on her face–“You must be reading the first chapter!” I said. “I just finished the first two,” she moaned. We both then admired the book and discussed the need to take it in small helpings.

    I’d take a leap of faith and say Beth Kephart meant what she said, and I’ll just bet that, ten years on, you’ll be saying the same thing. Best case scenario!!

  2. Hello. Just a note to say that I really did mean what I said…. Simply that, as Jeremy grew older and entered his teen years, I felt that it was increasingly important for him to move about the world unscrutinized by the writer in me, to have access only to the mother in me. To just let him be, to not pin him to the page with my words. And indeed, it is true, that my son, now a few weeks away from entering a truly wonderful university, grew up to be this fabulous person I couldn’t describe, if I had to. I didn’t have enough words for SLANT, truly, and now I definitely don’t have enough words.

    Jeremy’s diagnosis (and those of you who know me know I don’t like that word, for any of us) was lifted when he was about eight, which was when SLANT was published.

    I truly try not to brush anyone off, and always to tell the truth…. And I just wanted you to know. Thanks, Deborah, for your vote of confidence!

    Take care,


  3. I believe you, Beth, and I’m very happy to hear that Jeremy is doing so well.

    Jayne Anne Phillips, who holds your work in high esteem, suggested that I include your work in this anthology. I wanted her – and others – to know that I hadn’t overlooked you, and that your book had been very meaningful to me.

    Thank you for your comment!

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