Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Rediscovering A Great Writer: Beth Kephart

My oldest son was born in 1996 at 24 weeks' gestation, weighing only 1 pound and six ounces. (He is truly a miracle, which I have to remind myself whenever I'm yelling at him to clean his room.) My wife and I wrote a book about his birth and his first couple of years, a book which is still on our computer drive. I remember going to a writing conference and being told by an editor that books about kids/babies having a hard time or with "problems" just didn't sell. (Which, of course, is rubbish--but I wasn't as confident of my opinions in those days.)

As a result, I set out to find non-fiction books about non-typical children, and one of the books I found and loved was called A Slant of Sun by a writer named Beth Kephart. Here's what it says on Amazon about this book:

Named a Best Book of the Year by Salon magazine and The Philadelphia Inquirer, A Slant of Sun was praised for its incandescent prose about the experience of loving a child who brings tremendous frustration and incalculable rewards and for its extraordinary resonance. Like Operating Instructions and The Liars' Club, A Slant of Sun is a contemporary classic.

Nearly one in five children grow up facing a developmental or behavioral challenge, and like them, Beth Kephart's son, Jeremy, showed early signs of being different: language eluded him, he preferred playing alone to an afternoon on the jungle gym. Doctors diagnosed Jeremy with a mild form of autism called Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified. A Slant of Sun is a passionate memoir about how Kephart, guided by the twin tools of intuition and imagination, helped lead her son toward wholeness. Pulsing with the questions, "Is normal possible? Definable?" A Slant of Sun speaks to everyone not just parents of the redemptive power of love.
"Incandescent prose." When I read this book, I remember knowing I was in the hands of a great writer.

But time intervened, and I lost track of Beth Kephart. Recently, however, I was doing something on this great internet of ours when her name popped up. Was this the same writer? What had she been up to the past 12 years?

It turns out that Beth Kephart has written several YA novels, including one called You Are My Only.

She has a blog where her rich writing and photography shine. It's on my sidebar now, and I urge you to check her out. I promise you will not be disappointed.


  1. Thanks for sharing about Beth and your son. That must have been such a hard experience when he was born. But I can totally relate to the (constant) having to tell my daughter to clean her room.

  2. I adore Beth's writing...and the Slant of Sun is one of the few of her books I have not read.

  3. And she writes poetry. :o)

    Thanks for recommending "A Slant of Sun." It looks like something I'd love.

    I'm glad you got your miracle.

  4. Dear Michael,

    Thank you so much for these words, for remembering, for putting a name with a history, for stretching forward with me into the right now.

    Time moves us forward, and the boy who inspired me years ago continues to inspire me just by being his happy, delightful, intelligent, funny self. He always will be my muse, no matter what I am writing about.

    I wish happiness to all of you, and wholeness.

    And thank you for your note just now,


  5. I came here from Beth's blog. I enjoyed your post--it made me smile and nod. Keep writing and reading and don't listen to anyone but your own heart. Nobody really knows what sells or why. Some people just make a living saying so. I think it's all quite imponderable, and all anyone can do is be true to his or her gifts, heart and truth.


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