One morning, Tophs, Taylor Harris's round-cheeked, lively 22-month-old, wakes up listless and unresponsive. 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.
[An] affecting, razor-sharp debut ... This Boy We Made blows up the stale formulas of trauma memoir, implicating us in Harris’s most intimate and terrifying moments, and those of her family, with candor and cool precision. Her book also serves as an allegory of sorts: a Black woman grapples with enduring racial disparities in health practices and outcomes, the stark divides both in and out of clinical settings ... Harris toggles between Tophs’s story and her own; each enriches the other ... Harris deftly draws a line between a Before and an After — when she grasps there’s something wrong with her son, she reconsiders earlier episodes ... The book also plumbs a less visible kind of malady: the unique obstacles African Americans confront in our medical infrastructure ... This Boy We Made not only reflects broader social reckonings, it is itself a reckoning, illuminating inequities entrenched not only within our justice system, but also within seemingly neutral institutions, such as health care. Mostly, it’s a scrupulous, moving read that deserves a wide audience, one inspired to push for change in a plethora of arenas.
At times, the memoir is a cascade of late-night and early-morning scares ... Throughout, Harris’s prose hugs readers like lifelong confidants, transforming them into inner-circle champions of her graceful fight. She examines her disquieting experience of feeling stuck en route to some elusive destination ... Interwoven is Harris’s acute understanding of how science and genetics can unlock a vital medical finding as surely as they can seem confounding along the way ... The memoir dedicates important space to the numbing bureaucracy that often accompanies medical visits, particularly as seen through the eyes of a Black woman in the South ... Even amid such painful episodes, Harris is generous with relaying mirthful ones ... Harris also brings humor to bear in moments of great adversity ... how deft Harris is in building Tophs’s multidimensional story.
Taylor Harris beautifully and heartbreakingly describes how...fear struck like a lightning bolt when her son Tophs began to experience a string of health issues that baffled medical experts ... Harris lays all these cards on the table, telling her story with raw candor and wit ... Honest revelations provide a touchstone to her experiences as an adult ... This Boy We Made is many books in one ... Fusing all these themes together in an entertaining and thoughtful way would seem an exhausting task, yet Harris does it with honesty and grace. With descriptive, poetic prose, her authentic message commands the reader’s full attention.