Giaci and Me

A Mother's Journey of Loving and Raising an Autistic Child

Non-Fiction - Education
274 Pages
Reviewed on 07/07/2024
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    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

Giaci and Me is a work of non-fiction in the education, parenting, and family life genres. Penned by author Rita Miceli, this heartfelt work chronicles the author's journey of raising her autistic son, Giaci, who, along with his sisters, has gained significant global attention on TikTok. The memoir provides an intimate look into their daily lives, focusing on family dynamics, managing household tasks, and maintaining emotional well-being. Through her personal narrative, Miceli aims to inspire and support other parents and caregivers of autistic children, offering a heartfelt and practical guide from diagnosis to adulthood, filled with empathy and compassion.

Author Rita Miceli has crafted a practical and helpful guide for others, but also a powerful family biography that is both heartwarming and enlightening. The narrative style holds nothing back, offering a raw, candid portrayal of her family’s experiences. The author conveys a deep, personal insight into the many challenges and triumphs of raising an autistic child, but also the incredible rewards of such a process. Her openness about her innermost thoughts, fears, and realizations creates a sense of connection and understanding, making the book relatable and comforting to anyone in similar circumstances, yet the narrative remains warm and optimistic to show the love that Miceli has for all her children. The fact that Giaci’s journey is captured through the lens of his TikTok fame shows the potential for positive impact and awareness that social media can bring to important issues like autism, even in a world where social media appears to be so destructive to anyone who is even slightly different to others. Miceli’s reflections and practical advice are invaluable, providing a comprehensive framework that spans decades in a well-organized and easy-to-read way. Overall, Giaci and Me is a highly recommended read that provides a beacon of hope, encouraging better support and understanding for families living with autism.

Foluso Falaye

Giaci and Me by Rita Miceli follows a mother's struggles with raising an autistic child and securing the right assistance to improve his condition. Rita's troubles started when she noticed that her son, Giaci, wasn't talking like her first child did when she was his age. As Rita waited for Giaci to talk and act like the other children, she realized he was different. When she finally discovered that he might be autistic, she worried about her family's future and how the news would be received by her family and friends. Rita's book takes us through what she experienced emotionally as she worked on multiple challenging situations, including getting help from professionals, seeking governmental support, having to consider changing churches, seeking the right schools to educate Giaci, and much more.

Rita Miceli's pain can be felt throughout the pages. Her story depicts her disappointment, shame, fear, sadness, and the other emotions she experienced as a mother who found her son was developmentally different. The deep, evocative storytelling brilliantly portrays her experiences with other professionals, with relatives, and in public. I learned a great deal about raising an autistic child, such as the importance of early special education and the need to be very patient and understanding. The book presents a gripping narrative that helps the reader experience the joys of finding love, getting married, and making preparations for a new member of the family. Overall, Giaci and Me shines a light on facing challenges together as a family and becoming tougher during difficult trials. Rita's story is a great opportunity to connect with a concerned mother, learn about the complexities of autism, and enjoy an immersive, exceptional read.

Carol Thompson

In Giaci and Me, Rita Miceli offers a poignant and heartfelt memoir that chronicles her journey as a mother raising an autistic son. With over half a million followers on TikTok, her son Giaci and his sisters are not just social media figures but symbols of resilience and familial love in the face of autism. Miceli's narrative is deeply personal, inviting readers into the intimate details of her family’s life. She bravely shares the everyday challenges and triumphs, from mundane tasks like housekeeping and showering to the profound emotional landscape of parenting a child with autism. Through her candid storytelling, Miceli provides a glimpse into the complexities of autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Giaci and Me is not merely a recounting of experiences but a comprehensive guide for families navigating similar paths. Rita Miceli addresses the spectrum of emotions that accompany raising a child with autism—fear, uncertainty, guilt, and immense joy and pride in small victories. Readers are taken “inside” Giaci’s world from birth to young adulthood through therapists and childhood mishaps, such as getting outside and wandering away. Giaci wasn’t Miceli’s only responsibility; she has three daughters, a set of twins younger than Giaci and a daughter older. Miceli’s support system is her husband, John, who was her high school sweetheart and, despite working two jobs, remained her beacon of hope and strength. By sharing her story, Miceli educates and advocates for greater understanding and support for individuals with autism and their families. However, Giaci and Me isn’t only for parents of autistic children; it’s a heartwarming story of motherhood, family, and the power of love.

Jamie Michele

Giaci and Me is Rita Miceli's journey as a mother to Giaci, her autistic son. Miceli's identity is rooted in her Italian immigrant upbringing and her strong familial bonds, particularly with her husband John. Despite early challenges and medical dismissals regarding Giaci's developmental issues, Miceli persisted in advocating for him, eventually securing a diagnosis of Pervasive Developmental Disorder. She details the emotional strains and triumphs of caring for Giaci alongside raising her other children, and how she found strength in her faith, family, and professional community. Through perseverance and adaptation, Miceli is able to overcome societal pressures and bureaucratic obstacles to provide Giaci with necessary therapies and educational opportunities, ultimately celebrating his milestones, fostering his independence into adulthood, and becoming an advocate and inspiration to others.

Rita Miceli openly shares her inner struggles in Giaci and Me, even when they are difficult to reconcile, such as feeling like a failure after her son's autism diagnosis, with a raw vulnerability that makes it deeply relatable. Miceli shows us the duality of what being Giaci's mother looks like, using imagery and symbolism beautifully. For example, the contrast between "Actress Rita" and "Authentic Rita" symbolizes Rita's struggle between maintaining appearances and confronting reality. Frankly, all I could see was Rita with a heart of gold and the might of a hurricane. The low points are balanced by the high and the humorous, and I laughed so hard when Giaci inadvertently disrupted a quiet moment during Mass. It's wonderful though how the role of community positively impacts Giaci's development, especially through interactions with parishioners at St. Mary's, where Miceli and her family experience acceptance and encouragement. Well-written, inspiring, and beautiful, I would give this memoir a whole bucket of stars if I could.

Courtnee Turner Hoyle

With the desire to help promote a greater understanding of and better services for neurodivergent people, Rita Miceli wrote Giaci and Me, relating her family's experiences with her autistic son. The narrative focuses on Miceli's son, Giaci, and his diagnosis's effect on his daily life and her family. She discusses the early signs of her son's condition and the challenges it posed as she sought a closer connection to him. Rita covers Giaci's doctor visits and therapies, how she advocated for Giaci, and outlines programs she hoped would give her son the best chance to express himself to others. As her family grew, they faced certain hardships, and she expresses her guilt and concerns, conveys grief over her "ambiguous loss," and outlines the meaningful sacrifices made by each family member.

Rita Miceli laces her story with beautiful language and heartfelt sentiments. Her approach is literary with raw details that take you on a rollercoaster of emotions. I was inspired by Rita's movement into a more supportive environment after she noticed the judgment from her more traditional acquaintances. As a mom who has a child with special needs, Rita's words were comforting. I felt some affirmation concerning my emotions and saw the beauty and hope through the love and perseverance within her family structure. Any family can learn a great deal from each other, and this story shows extraordinary lessons of compassion, care, and kindness. Giaci and Me is a great selection for readers who want to learn more about autism or for families seeking validation for their feelings and hope for their autistic child's future.