Amy Silverman’s “My Heart Can’t Even Believe It” explores Down syndrome

Amy Silverman, My Heart Can't Believe It, book, Down syndrome
Author Amy Silverman with daughters (from left) Sophie (12) and Annabelle (14). Photo by Rick D’Elia.

People who dodge bullets—real or metaphorical—are giddy with relief; survivor’s guilt and denial come later. Averting one’s gaze from the less lucky is a common way of getting on with life.

I acknowledge that I hesitated a moment before beginning “My Heart Can’t Even Believe It: A Story of Science, Love and Down Syndrome”, Tempe author Amy Silverman’s book about parenting Sophie, her daughter who has Down syndrome. Then I started reading.

The book is like a prism. It takes the stark, clinical reality of a Down syndrome diagnosis and refracts it into a human, multihued spectrum. It is a memoir about a family knocked sideways by biology—and about how parents are raised by their children. It’s also a concise digest of the latest science on Down syndrome, a DIY manual for parents of special-needs children and, most important, a real-life falling-in-love story.

Although the book covers a lot of complicated terrain, it’s never dry or academic. The author has put her considerable skill as an investigative journalist (she also is managing editor of “Phoenix New Times”) to work on the biggest story of her life, which she tells with intelligence and passion.

Silverman is a warm, funny and devoted parent—and a tireless advocate for her daughter. She’s also a wonderful writer and an unflinchingly honest observer of herself, her family and the sideshows of modern family life.

Surprisingly, she says, Down syndrome may virtually disappear in future generations as genetic testing becomes more precise.

There will always be a need for connection, common sense and comfort—exactly the things we find in this wonderful book.

My Heart Can't Even Believe It, Amy Silverman, Down syndrome, bookMeet Amy Silverman at her book launch event