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Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite
Remembering Terri by Janice Cameron Steele is the non-fiction memoir of a mother's journey raising her daughter, Terri Renee Ledbetter, who had been born with a non-syndromic intellectual disability after a traumatic premature birth. Terri's entrance into the world was in a haze of confusion and fear as her doctor called for an immediate c-section and, once delivered, Janice came to understand that Terri's survival was something of a miracle. Initially, the delays in Terri's development were not really noticeable, but as she began to grow and miss standard milestones it was soon clear that Terri was special. Confronted with bullying, the prospect of sexual predators, difficulty adjusting to change, patterns of challenging behavior, and the onset of further mental and physical complications, Janice dedicates herself to giving her daughter the happiest, healthiest, and best life possible. The passing of Terri is sudden and wholly unexpected, and after 43 years with her daughter, Janice finds herself having to navigate life without her.
Janice Cameron Steele offers us a look into a life filled with love in Remembering Terri. As a reader, I found myself touched by their stories and moved in a way I wasn't entirely expecting when I picked the memoir up. I particularly enjoyed the photographs throughout the book which allowed me to watch Terri grow from childhood to teen years and teen years to adulthood. I admit that it took some time for me to really get into the narrative and there are several details that seem to be left out with regard to important changes along the way. I would have liked to know more about Terri's biological father, the divorce, how Janice met her second husband and what it was like nurturing a romantic relationship under unique circumstances, the path to the Special Olympics, etc—but what Janice imparts in place of these things is a true heart, and this is ultimately what makes the book so engrossing. After Terri's passing, Janice keeps the memory of her daughter alive, finding healing in the face of her grief through strong faith, and the embrace of a loving tribe who also cared deeply for Terri. This is a precious biography and I am so grateful to have read it.