My Brother Speaks in Dreams: Of Family, Beauty & Belonging
With a sister’s candid view, Anderson chronicles the barriers that made life difficult for her brother Charlie and for others like him. In an era that only gradually came to accept people with intellectual disabilities, Charlie’s life and journey, including the eight years he spent in institutions, were challenging for him and his family. Anderson movingly describes the growth involved for all family members and Charlie's success in developing a life distinctively his own. She also celebrates the mystery of the connection beyond language she felt with her non-verbal brother, honestly confronting the limits of her understanding as well.
What a deep and powerful journey Catherine Anderson takes us on in her beautifully written book, My Brother Speaks in Dreams. I was instantly engaged as her story unfolded, showing us the difficulties of loving, accepting, learning from, and living with a beautiful soul who thinks and communicates differently. Anderson's authentic voice, her intricate introspections, and her empathetic observations make this unique tale a universal story. The characters, issues, stigmas, confusions, and deep connections stayed with me long after I turned the final page. —Deborah Shouse, author of Love in the Land of Dementia: Finding Hope in the Caregiver’s Journey.
Catherine Anderson's memoir about life with her neurodivergent brother, Charlie, is both gripping and poignant. It is well written, intimately considered, and revealing, an unflinching portrait of a unique family and brother facing uncommon circumstances over changing eras and environments. As the parent of an adult special needs child of my own, I appreciate well how daunting and challenging such a lifelong journey can be. Anderson navigates hers with Charlie with the sensitivity and understanding that only a sibling can share. Without exception, she does so with honesty, insight, respect, and perhaps most importantly, deep compassion and love. —William Cass, author of Something Like Hope & Other Stories
Anderson speaks with eloquence about "the complexities of loving a child with intellectual disabilities in a world that rejects such imperfection." Ultimately, sometimes through tears, the reader will come to know intimately what life with Charlie taught the author and what her insights can teach us: that language is only one way to communicate, and our culture often fails to recognize and honor other ways. —Maril Crabtree, author of Fireflies in the Gathering Dark
Catherine Anderson writes she has "arms permanently open to catch whatever falls" in her intimate telling of the universal story of growing up with a sibling who is neurodivergent. The reader feels her mother's desperation to teach her son fluent speech, and the family's trauma of separation and shame when her sibling is sent away to "school." Our country's recent history of institutionalizing children like Charlie was driven by ignorance. Born in this century, the resources available to Charlie and his family would have altered the paths of all their lives and their ability to connect with each other. Catherine's deep love for her brother ultimately motivates her to learn his language in order to connect. She is shaped not only by her responsibilities but the common humanity of their relationship. My Brother Speaks in Dreams is a beautifully written memoir that will feel personal to some and profound to all. —Jeanne Henry Hoose, retired special educator