"Perfectly Human" by Sarah C. Williams. A Review.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Someone from church loaned me a copy right after we lost a grandson at birth. I wasn't sure if I could read it, and so waited four weeks. I was finally able to pick it up, and wept through much of the tale. Though "Perfectly Human" was originally written in 2005 as "The Shaming of the Strong" it was been reworked in 2018 and added to for this edition. Though I cried through much of the material, I can wholeheartedly say it is worth the read, even if you have lost a child or just received news that the life you are carrying inside is malformed, or might not live.
"Perfectly Human" is the story of Paul and Sarah Williams, their family and their friends, and it revolves around the gestation, death and birth of their youngest daughter, Cerian (Welsh for "loved one"). While Cerian was in the womb, the medical establishment discovered she had thanatophric dysplasia, a deadly skeletal deformity that would result in the death of the child at birth. From the moment of that news through the remainder of the carriage, the reader walks with Paul, Sarah, Emilia, Hannah, Wren, Emma, and the family's loving network. There were hard decisions, harsh assumptions made by the medical professionals about sub-optimal life and worth, physical and emotional pain, and the loss and the grief. In the story there are telling moments that show how much Westerners are inebriated with the idea of choice and strength defining a person's worth. As Williams notes in the epilogue, "in the Western world, choosing what we desire has become the essence of what it means to be human" (156).
"Perfectly Human" is a personal epiphany that God-as-Trinity has made us in his image, and thus made us as relational beings meant for relationship with himself. Our worth is not found in how strong, athletic, or accomplished we can be, but in God. His loving us is evidence of this worth. Mothers and fathers, seniors and students will find the book worth their time to read and discuss. And those who have lost a special little one, will rejoice - though likely, as I did, through tears - in the hope and value affirmed in this account. I highly recommend the book.
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