Dear Star in Her Eye Readers,
Eight years ago, this very month of July, I started a blog. I named it “Star in Her Eye,” because the baby I was raising had a five-pointed star in the bright blue iris of her right eye. She also had a rare condition every doctor had to look up on the Internet.
For the past eight years, I’ve been writing to you–about the beautiful moments, about the hard ones, about giving our daughter language, about radically accepting our loved ones just as they are). It has been one of the greatest joys of my writing life, to write these posts, and read your responses.
Eight years after that very first post, my rare kid is now getting two inches of air between the floor and her sneakers as she and her mother manically jump around the living room to Shaun T’s relentless mandates. “High knees! Lunge kicks!” At the end of the workouts, Shaun T shouts, “Max Out,” and so does Fiona. We’ve been doing these workouts–she gleefully, me sweatily–for four long, pandemicky months. (Sidenote: WordPress insists that pandemicky isn’t a word, but I beg to differ. It perfectly blends the long haul of waiting in a global crisis with the snappy truth of panicky.)
It is, to say the least, a strange time to release a book! The world is on fire at least two different ways (and for one of those ways, it has been for hundreds of years. Black Lives Matter.) We are all floundering, and vulnerable, and trying–at least many of us–to love one another in the face of so much heartbreak and uncertainty.
But the book is here, nonetheless. It’s here! And maybe it’s also the perfect time to release this book. What I’ve learned as Fiona’s mother, what I hinted at in an essay about striving for a “SuperBaby,” and what I wrote about in this book, is that we are not only fragile beings, but our fragility is what makes us human. Which is to say good and beautiful and holy.
Nobody is guaranteed protection. This has become especially apparent in this pandemic. Nobody can ensure that they’ll survive a tiny virus. Nobody can improve themselves into perfection. Nobody can fully guard themselves against suffering. I learned this nine years ago when I gave birth to Fiona, and I learn this repeatedly since. We are vulnerable: to pain, to heartbreak.
But we are also vulnerable to love.
In the eight years that I’ve kept this blog, I’ve again and again returned to the aching, tender, transformative, lucky work of love. And that, above all, is what this book is about.
I hope you’ll order it! It’s available wherever books are sold.
I also hope you’ll stay safe. And well. And buoyed by flashes of joy that grace you even in this pandemicky time.
p.s. If you want to stay in touch, please sign up for my newsletter. I’ll reflect monthly on writing, parenting, and the strange beauty of being human.
Reviews are already in! I’m so grateful to other writers who’ve already read and praised the book. You can read snippets of them below.
“Heather Lanier’s Raising a Rare Girl is that rare soaring book: a gripping read that delivers spiritual reflection and serious cultural analysis on disability and parenthood. These sentences are sheer poetry, and in the service of dissecting the ableism in our culture, they are also piercing and necessary.” —Sonya Huber, author of Pain Woman Takes Your Keys and Other Essays from a Nervous System
“In Raising a Rare Girl, Lanier writes with passion in each line, infusing wisdom in her stunning prose as she shares the most intimate moments of new motherhood. Lanier has created a book that could only be written by someone with the skill of poet and heart of an optimist.”—Elizabeth L Silver, author of The Tincture of Time
“Lanier’s prose is dazzling, and her honesty is crushing. In Raising a Rare Girl, she demonstrates the depths of maternal love—and, in our historically perfectionistic society, the true meaning of triumph.” —Gabrielle Glaser, author of American Baby
“Raising a Rare Girl is, at turns, heartbreaking and heart-soaring. It’s a hard-earned, generous, and insightful investigation of our bodies and our souls, grief and joy, holding on tight and letting go, as well as the worlds that take shape around us and the worlds we create from within.”—Julianna Baggott, author of Harriet Wolf’s Seventh Book of Wonders
“Gorgeously written, and simultaneously as warm and intimate as a conversation with your wisest friend, Raising a Rare Girl is a moving testament to the transcendence of unconditional love.”—Liane Kupferberg Carter, author of Ketchup is My Favorite Vegetable
“A tender and powerful book that asks us to look honestly at what we expect of our children, each other, and ourselves, and explores the unexpected joy that comes when we release those expectations.” —Kerry Egan, author of On Living
“With Raising a Rare Girl, Heather Lanier has written a luminous memoir about disability, life, and ardor. There is wholeheartedness and passion in this tale of parental joy and wisdom.” —Stephen Kuusisto, author of Have Dog, Will Travel
“This is an intensely reflective and honest account….Readers share moments of anguish, terror, laughter, and triumph, as feisty Fiona grows and conquers milestones in her own unique ways. The book ends as Fiona enters Kindergarten, confident, quirky, and rare, indeed.”—Booklist
“Moving and insightful . . . Lanier struggles with the attitudes of physicians and others who regard her daughter as ‘damaged’ and beautifully details her own acceptance. . . This intimate, powerful memoir will resonate with parents, whether of ‘superbabies’ or not.” —Publishers Weekly
“Lanier writes with powerful humanity as she charts her course. . . Her abiding love for Fiona is clear throughout, and it’s heartening to watch her learn to reject the idea that disability is deficit. . . A book of pluck, spirit, and great emotion with an appealing perspective on the value of each human life.” —Kirkus Reviews
I was taken aback when I stumbled across your story while searching for support for myself and my family (completely different situation) so many years ago. Your family’s struggles were heartbreaking, but your ‘wordsmithing’ ability is truly amazing and I enjoyed reading. I felt your blog changed a bit after a few years and as a Dad, I stopped reading. Congratulations on this new book! Thank you for all you share with the world.
Congratulations on your book! I’m having to be thrifty right now so I went to see if my library has a copy, and you might be happy to hear that Boston Public Libraries indeed has an ebook which is already checked out — I am number eight in line with it on hold, and really looking forward to getting to read it. Do you have a preference for where I leave a review (or reviews) afterward?
Thank you, Jack! Hooray for public libraries! And thanks for asking about reviews. Goodreads and/or Amazon are always helpful places. Best to you!
Heather, I am so thrilled for you and grateful to have “met” you so many years ago through this weird and wonderful platform. I will spread the news far and wide about your book and just know that it will be a success in every way. Your beautiful writing and spirit, I am certain, suffuse every page. I can’t wait to read it! Congratulations and brava!
So honored to read this, Elizabeth! Thank you thank you. It means so much coming from you.
Yours was one of my very favorite blogs. I don’t know how I found you but I am so glad I did! I’m so glad I subscribed to your blog so I got this email about your book. I love your writing and you teach me so much, even for someone who has been around disabled adults a lot and considers herself pretty well informed. Congratulations!!! I’m so happy for you! I am going to do my best to see if I can afford the book and order it today. Big virtual high fives and hugs to you!
I just ordered! Thank you!
The book arrived today and I just finished it. Love!! I’m an AAC SLP and was SO HAPPY to read about Fiona getting a robust AAC system early on, and her school team being so fantastic!!
Thanks for reading! Yes, we found some true gems early on to support her.
Hello Heather, congratulations on your amazing book. I preordered it and read it straight through when it arrived. It is transformative. Here’s something from Anne Boyer’s “The Undying” that made me think of your book: “A writer must, wrote Brecht, be courageous enough to know the truth, skillful enough to weaponize it, judicious enough to know who might be able to use it, and cunning enough to help it find its way. And the truth must be written for someone, a someone who is all of us, all who exist in that push and pull of what bonds of love tie us to the earth and what suffering drives us from it.”
Thank you for being courageous.
Hiya – I linked to you and included your book launch in my latest #BlogPost – “Brain fog and birthdays”.
@dSavannahCreate from dSavannahRambles
Oh, thank you! I’ll check it out!
Hello, I just finished your book. It is lovely, moving, and such a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing.
Blessing to you and all your family.
Hello, I just finished your book( in one sitting) and was blown away by your poetic prose, insights, honesty, and most of all, by Fiona. I also have a daughter with special needs, and really related to you.
I signed up for your blog, and plan on going back to read your posts and watch your TED talk.
Keep writing, your voice is amazing!
Thanks Heather. Your book says all the things that need to be said and all the things that should’t need to be said – and I am so glad you said them.