This Boy We Made: A Memoir of Motherhood, Genetics, and Facing the Unknown by Taylor Harris
One mother's story of her efforts to make sense of her young son's unexplainable medical condition, and what it reveals about herself and her world—who she is as a parent and what it means to navigate health and education systems as a Black family.
On sale January 4, 2022 • ISBN: 9781948226844
What causes a happy, round-cheeked boy's blood sugar to crash overnight, leaving him limp and staring into space? This Boy We Made is Taylor Harris's brilliant, joyful, and heartbreaking exploration of her experience as a mother bumping into limits—of science and medicine, her own expectations of motherhood, and her previously air-tight theology—as she tries to find the root of her son Toph's mysterious illness.
As doctors try to answer one question, more arise, and it becomes clear that hypoglycemia is just a single piece of a larger puzzle. Driven by a desire to better understand Toph, who loves music and people but struggles to answer simple questions, Harris digs deeper. Speaking to the challenges of raising a Black son in America and how the healthcare industry often fails people of color, but also to the awe and hopefulness that infuses all of these challenges, Harris spends countless hours on Google searches and prayer, appointments with pediatric specialists, and nights spent interrogating her every action as a mother. Then the ground beneath her shifts further: Doctors are not all-knowing, God hasn't promised her safety, and, even for someone with an anxiety disorder, sometimes fear is the only rational response.
When the search reveals critical genetic information about her own body, she can't help but wonder if Toph has saved her life. Has she found herself in searching for the deepest parts of him? This Boy We Made examines what we make of what we cannot know and how we fight for meaningful lives in the middle, and speaks to the powerful bond between mother and child, and the way their fates are intertwined.
TAYLOR HARRIS is a writer, wife, and mom to three who lives in Charlottesville, Virginia. Her essays have appeared in The Washington Post, Longreads, Catapult, The Cut, McSweeney's, and other publications.