All I Can Handle: I’m No Mother Teresa: A Life Raising Three Daughters with Autism by Kim Stagliano
Review by: Lauren
Source: copy from library; all opinions are my own
Official Summary: Dr. Spock? Check. Penelope Ann Leach (Remember her?) Check. What to Expect When You’re Expecting? Check. I had a seven hundred dollar Bellini crib for God’s sake!
Everything was perfect…”
...and so begins Kim Stagliano’s electrifying and hilarious memoir of her family’s journey raising three daughters with autism. Always outspoken, often touching, and sometimes heartbreaking, Kim Stagliano is a powerful new voice in comedic writing—her “Kimoir” (as she calls it) is the next must-read within the autism community and the literary world at large.
Review: I had seen this memoir at the library I work at for a while now. I guess something about the title jumped out at me and I knew I wanted to read it. One day, I finally took it off the shelf and brought it home and I’m so happy I did! While I’m not a huge fan of the cover (seems too simple, I suppose), the inner contents of this book are well worth praise. Kim Stagliano is a happy wife and mother of three daughters: Mia, Gianna, and Bella. What is not so typical of her and her family is that all three girls have a diagnosis of autism. They do not all have the same issues when it comes to autism, which made reading about them even more interesting. I think most of us have some idea of autism in our head (I know I do), but All I Can Handle helps flip that image a bit by providing various examples from Stagliano’s girls to other people she has met on her autism journey.
All I Can Handle deals with serious topics from the girls, to unemployment, to working on marriage when times are tough, but it’s never depressing or too dreary. Stagliano has a matter-of-fact writing style that makes you feel like you know her in person, and she’s always adding in needed doses of humor throughout her stories. Each chapter is essentially an essay describing a particular moment or topic from her life. She’s open and honest about her financial struggles and how difficult it is to deal with three girls with autism. She loves her kids and would do anything for them. She believes in a cure and hopes that her girls will lead happy, independent lives in the future. If not, she’ll do whatever she can to at least make sure they are happy and safe. Stagliano has learned to appreciate the little things in life, especially with her girls, but that doesn’t mean she’s not sometimes frustrated or mad. Life with autism is not always easy, but being a good mom means pushing through even if it’s not always perfect.
All I Can Handle is a wonderful look into the personal side of autism and how it affects the entire family and not just the one with the diagnosis. Reading it will hopefully bring comfort, empathy, and understanding- depending on the reader.