A Memoir of Motherhood, Genetics, and Facing the Unknown
Finalist for the 2023 Southern Book Prize
A Black mother bumps up against the limits of everything she thought she believed—about science and medicine, about motherhood, and about her faith—in search of the truth about her son.
One morning, Tophs, Taylor Harris’s round-cheeked, lively twenty-two-month-old, wakes up listless, only lifting his head to gulp down water. She rushes Tophs to the doctor, ignoring the part of herself, trained by years of therapy for generalized anxiety disorder, that tries to whisper that she’s overreacting. But at the hospital, her maternal instincts are confirmed: something is wrong with her boy, and Taylor’s life will never be the same.
With every question the doctors answer about Tophs’s increasingly troubling symptoms, more arise, and Taylor dives into the search for a diagnosis. She spends countless hours trying to navigate health and education systems that can be hostile to Black mothers and children; at night she googles, prays, and interrogates her every action.
Some days, her sweet, charismatic boy seems just fine; others, he struggles to answer simple questions. A long-awaited appointment with a geneticist ultimately reveals nothing about what’s causing Tophs’s drops in blood sugar, his processing delays—but it does reveal something unexpected about Taylor’s own health. What if her son’s challenges have saved her life?This Boy We Made
is a stirring and radiantly written examination of the bond between mother and child, full of hard-won insights about fighting for and finding meaning when nothing goes as expected.