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Last Updated on September 5, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 401

In Life As We Know It, Michael Bérubé interweaves the conventions of memoir with those of critical and historical analysis in order to mount a telling critique of “disability” as an idea within North American culture. His critique is founded both in personal experience and the objective findings of his research. Inspired by the birth and life of his son Jamie, Bérubé’s work is founded on his experiences as a father of someone with Down syndrome, touching on the challenges negotiated and rewards reaped by his family in the years since Jamie’s birth in 1991.

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He opens his account with his recollections of Jamie’s birth, of his family’s adjustment to the realization that their son had Down syndrome, and of their decision to flout conventional medical wisdom and raise their second child just as they had their first. The text continues with Bérubé’s recollections of how the events of the subsequent years awakened him to the role of medical, societal, and political authorities in defining his son as someone existing at the boundary of humanity. Bérubé’s portrayal of how his son was perceived by the outside world appears in sharp contrast to how his humanity was emphasized within a family environment and how by means of various adjustments he, his wife, and his first son, Nick, were able to create conditions where Jamie was emotionally and intellectually nourished.

This personal aspect of the text renders it an instructive and enlightening read for parents who have children with Down syndrome or other disabilities. However, the...

(The entire section contains 401 words.)

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