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Reviewed by Susan van der Walt for Readers' Favorite
Author Melissa Jacobus has raised two adopted children, both diagnosed with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD), an invisible but preventable developmental disability. FASD is caused when a mother consumes alcohol during her pregnancy which can present in the child in various ways. The main factor is that FASD sufferers can fool others because they can appear credible, believable, and mature. However, adults with FASD can't make good choices due to poor judgment, suggestibility, and limited understanding of the consequences of their actions and they will always need a parent to advocate for them. In The Accomplice, we see the battles a parent faces looking out for these adult children who have the legal rights of adults but no capability in taking care of themselves, and how this legal adult status limits parental rights and the assistance they can give to those in their care.
The biggest challenge for parents and people with FASD is ignorance. The ongoing challenge of educating people about a disability that people can't see is exhausting and often frustrating when people show no interest. Melissa Jacobus faces resistance from her ex-husband who doesn't believe in FASD and thinks his children's issues are due to her poor parenting. I admire Melissa's persistence in helping her children despite their poor choices and her ongoing campaign to educate and advocate for FASD patients. The Accomplice is a valuable resource to create awareness about FASD and poses a challenge to the legal system to incorporate processes to deal with offenders diagnosed with FASD, and to get them the help they need instead of prison sentences that only create a vicious circle of criminal activity.