Looking for Caylie

An Unabashed Memoir of the Battle, Breakthrough, and Future with a Genetic Variant

Non-Fiction - Memoir
154 Pages
Reviewed on 05/09/2022
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Joe Wisinski for Readers' Favorite

Looking for Caylie: An Unabashed Memoir of the Battle, Breakthrough, and Future with a Genetic Variant is the story of a mother’s struggle to get help for her daughter’s mental health condition. Author Misty Wolf fought for years to find out what caused Caylie’s symptoms, to deal with them, and most importantly, to get the assistance that Caylie needed, but which the mental health care system was not able to provide. Along the way, Wolf met roadblocks from the government, resistance from people who didn’t necessarily approve of her handling of the situation, and almost continual belligerence from Caylie herself. Yet she continued and was eventually able to overcome the problems and find out what had made Caylie the way she was. She was finally able to get the treatment that Caylie needed.

I was hooked on this story from the first chapter - the shocking tale of how 14-year-old Caylie disappeared after school one day, with no one knowing where she could have gone. Misty Wolf tells of her experiences in a gripping fashion, yet without expectation of sympathy or financial gain. It's a true story of anguish, pain, and frustration, yet with a positive outcome. It’s clear Wolf was pursuing only one goal - to get her daughter the remedy she needed. She tells her compelling story not just to let readers know about the difficulties she and Caylie faced, but to encourage others who may find themselves in a similar situation. She makes a strong case for changing the system so others don’t have to face the same nigh-impossible journey. I highly recommend Looking for Caylie to anyone.

Susan van der Walt

Caylie is a child following an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). She is happy and fun-loving, enjoys fashion and reading, and is comfortable talking to her mother and asking questions. But the day Caylie disappears after school, her mother Misty Wolf, who is also the author, knows something is wrong. Although they found her within a few hours, it was the beginning of the search for Caylie, the child she lost to an unidentified disorder. Looking for Caylie: An Unabashed Memoir of the Battle, Breakthrough, and Future with a Genetic Variant takes us on a mother's journey to discover what has turned her child into a psychotic, angry, and disconnected stranger.

I can only admire Misty Wolf for her ongoing battle to get the best care for Caylie, even with financial constraints and while studying part-time. She had to find the right doctor and deal with many bureaucratic organizations to arrange financial help and treatment options. She was often standing alone, without the support of her family, who didn't understand the benefits of psychiatric treatment. Since Caylie's condition didn't match any recognized disorder, her mother often felt as though the doctors treated her daughter like a lab rat, trying and adjusting medications to improve her condition. She never gave up fighting for her daughter - carrying on until finally, they diagnosed the gene that caused the illness. After four grueling years, her mother began seeing a glimpse of the old Caylie she had lost, even though she knows that with this disability, Caylie will always be in her care. Looking for Caylie will bring hope and inspiration to parents fighting bureaucracy and health systems to find the best treatment for their sick or disabled children.

Alma Boucher

Looking for Caylie: An Unabashed Memoir of the Battle, Breakthrough, and Future with a Genetic Variant by Misty Wolf is an incredible memoir about a mother’s journey to find the correct diagnosis and help her daughter needs. The journey began when Misty received a phone call from her mom that Caylie was missing, but after a few agonizing hours, Caylie was found. At home, Caylie’s behavior started to change; she would talk to herself in such a manner that her mother could not understand her. Misty researched and found the best psychiatrist she could to treat her daughter. After various appointments with Dr. Fleisher and adjustments to the medication, Caylie wasn’t getting better. She started getting aggressive toward her mother and was hospitalized. Misty studied disability law and learned how all the organizations were interconnected to be able to advocate for her daughter.

Misty Wolf invited us into her life in Looking for Caylie. We experience her struggles to find a solution and the opposition she received at times from her family for the decisions she had to make. She poured her heart out as she wrote this memoir; she wasn’t afraid to show emotion and talk about Caylie’s aggression toward her. This memoir was written by a mother wanting others to know about her struggles, and the solutions there are for this disorder. It opened my eyes to struggles parents go through that not many know about and the help that is available. I would recommend this book to everyone as there is always something for us to learn from others’ experiences.

Manik Chaturmutha

Looking for Caylie by Misty Wolf is more than an inspiring memoir. Written by a mother for her ailing daughter, the memoir restores parents' hope and serves as a guidebook for them. The memoir starts with Caylie's disappearance after school. Wolf's adolescent daughter, Caylie, had been diagnosed with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). Wolf tries to figure out her daughter's autistic behavior and ultimately gets Caylie treated by an expert adult psychiatrist, Dr. Carl Fleisher. Wolf's parents are her support system, and she counts on them for Caylie's healthy upbringing. Meanwhile, Wolf struggles to secure a steady source of income to pay off her daughter's hospital bills. Her friends, acquaintances, and Caylie's teachers and medical assistants consistently support her arduous journey. Caylie goes through challenging episodes until her reports suggest a genetic mutation. This book is a Bible for parents looking for hope.

We rarely read the struggles of a single mother and her sacrifices for the child's sake. Wolf's persistence and her unwavering spirit to give her daughter an everyday life is the central portion of the memoir. The way she guides her daughter is a lesson to be learned for the parents of mentally challenged children. The narrative exposes the faults in the traditional IEP formula of education, unable to engage a child in academics. How Wolf describes the details that the mother-daughter duo goes through draws her more respect than sympathy. Her handling of her parents' mixed reactions and the psychiatrist encourages a parent to act boldly instead of giving in to despair. The best part is that there's no hint of pessimism in the memoir, which propels the narrative in a positive direction. A fantastic story of a mother's patience, perseverance, and unconditional love for her daughter, Looking for Caylie is a testament to the light at the end of the tunnel. The book is highly recommended for lovers of autobiographies.

Miche Arendse

Looking for Caylie: An Unabashed Memoir of the Battle, Breakthrough, and Future with a Genetic Variant by Misty Wolf recounts the events surrounding Caylie and the sudden changes in her behavior. Caylie was always seen as a sweet and kind child; however, in the blink of an eye, she becomes aggressive and violent. Misty, Caylie’s mother, seeks to learn the truth behind this sudden change in her daughter and how she can make things right. Follow along the journey of a mother who is trying to find the reason behind her daughter’s cognitive regression in this touching story.

Looking for Caylie by Misty Wolf was a very eye-opening and emotional book to read. Seeing the changes in Caylie throughout the chapters, I couldn’t help but wonder what it must have felt like to witness this change in your child, especially when it came up so suddenly. This book opens your eyes to the struggles faced by parents with children who have some form of neuro-divergence. I think books like this are important as they allow you to see what it is like living and dealing with these types of issues, and the toll it can take on not only the parents but the child as well. We see the process of trying to diagnose Caylie and how that affects Caylie, her mother, grandparents, and even teachers. Getting a look into the process of trying different medications and trying to find something that works truly allows you to see how much a parent goes through in these circumstances. This book is honestly very touching and gives the reader a bit of insight.