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A Mother Like Alex: One Defiant Woman. Nine Special Children. Paperback – 3 Nov 2008

4.7 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: HarperTrue (3 Nov. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007271670
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007271672
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.6 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 461,833 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

‘In a market awash with true-life memoirs, it is refreshing to find a book that really feels different. As Alex tells each of [the childrens’ ] stories, there are traumatic episodes, lots of humour and plenty of heartache - but more than anything, a genuine insight into the redemptive power of love.’ The Bookseller

Book Description

An inspiring true story of a life devoted to helping Downs children. Alex Bell is a 53 year old woman who lives in Swinton, on the outskirts of Manchester. She is feisty, funny with a real firecracker of a personality. She has needed that strength of character for Alex is the adoptive mother of 8 children with Downs Syndrome or other disabilities, children who some parts of society would perhaps prefer to forget. Age 28 and unmarried, Alex adopted her first Downs child, Matthew - and became one of the first people in the UK to be approved for adoption as a single woman. Amazingly, she went on to take eight more children under her wing, Simon, Adrian, Nathan, Andrew, Chloe, Tom, Emily and Callum. Some had been through a frustratingly bureaucratic care system, or moved from one foster parent to another. It sometimes seemed an impossible challenge, but Alex was determined to give these children stability, love and the best life possible. With her down-to-earth charm, Alex also brings together the families often torn apart by Downs. She encourages the birth families to get together - some of whom have sadly turned their backs on their son or daughter, but others have now long been happily involved in their children's lives. The nine children each have unique, sometimes heartbreaking stories, but they are also the most joyful, compelling and fascinating children you're ever likely to meet: / Happy-to-lucky Matthew, 24, who takes people on tours of Man. Utd - the only Downs child to be given such a privileged position, and testament to Alex's care / Adrian, the family timekeeper and numbers wiz, as if born with a clock inside his brain / Chloe, the lovable, mischievous scamp known as Little Miss Dynamite Prepare to be amazed, moved and entranced by this powerful true story that will change the way we all look at disabilities. Alex believes special needs children are 'gifts', and spending any time with her it becomes obvious that she also has a very special gift of her own.

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4.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I read this book because it was lying around and my mother had finished reading it. I now understand why my mother was so difficult to get hold of whilst she was reading this, it's a great read. I read it so quickly I just wanted to keep turning the pages to see what would happen next. I now feel a great sense of loss having finished it. We have a couple of Down's syndrome kids at school, they're nice people. This is one of the most descriptive books I have ever read, far more visual than any of our English course work slogs. I think it's a great shame portraits are included, they aren't necessary, I could pictures the main characters perfectly without them. A brilliant book I loved it.
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Format: Paperback
This is a strikingly intelligent book, not a christmas card. What the previous reviewer terms blunt I would call honest, and who would want a dishonest book on this or any other subject? The subject is huge - ten lives to be described - and that calls for detached, compassionate journalism, which is what it gets from the author. Without the structure that the journalist puts on the subject the warmth, generosity, dammit the sheer guts of Alex Bell, wouldn't leap off the page the way they do - and we'd be lost in the pitfalls of the law and adoption, the mire and mess of the British social services. It's a serious subject taken seriously. It's well-researched and beautifully illustrated. And if it's 'blunt' .... well I have bad news for you, Bambi's mother doesn't make it to the end of the movie either.
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Format: Paperback
As a parent of a Down's syndrome child I enjoyed this book. It's not easy, but worthwhile in life is not always easy. This book was a joy to read, and is support group by my bedside I can dip in to anytime. For those of us dealing with the problems and the huge rewards the issue is not a sensitive one, it's everyday life and we get on with it. Clark's narrative was to the point and necessary and in places very very beautiful as are the people he introduces us to. Well done this is a gorgeous book, light given to the dark. The story of Alex Bell needed to be told.
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Format: Paperback
This is a memorable book which I am glad I read for three reasons.
First, I expected it to fall into line with other books about children in difficulties. In a sense it does (the children certainly have difficulties), but it altogether avoids cliche or easy expectations. Each child of those Alex Bell has taken into her family has their own distinct personality, and each story is very different. There is a variety to the stories that urges one on.
Second, although the book moved me to tears at a number of points, it is not a 'misery' read. It is a hugely positive story about what love - in Alex's case, hard-nosed love - can achieve.
Finally, the book is very well written. i find it hard to agree with the reviewer who found the author's take on the children unsympathetic. Good writing tells the truth. A MOTHER LIKE ALEX does so with humour, sensitivity, and courageous involvement.
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Format: Paperback
A wonderful story, beautifully written. Not for the faint hearted, the moments of pure sadness in this book are sad, but the moments of pure joy are particularly joyful.
This is an uplifting account of woman who has truly achieved and is still striving to achieve more in a world where many of us choose not to venture. Her family leap from the pages as fantastically inspiring animate individuals, their struggles and triumphs lovingly documented. For those who have compassion and empathy for the subject matter this is a must read, for those who simply want a good book, and how often do they really turn up, this is also a must read.
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Format: Paperback
This is an excellent book dealing with a very difficult and unique subject (a single woman adopting Down's children). I warmed to the main characters, Alex and each of her nine children, who were portrayed in a sympathetic and understanding way. Alex's courage and tremendous determination to firstly overcome the bureaucratic obstacles in adopting the children, and then to provide them with a safe, loving and caring home, thereby enabling them to live out their lives in as best a way as possible, is an object lesson to us all. A great gift for Xmas.
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Format: Paperback
once i started reading this i couldnt stop till it was finished. i found alexs sheer determination and fighting spirit an inspiration. my youngest son (of 3) also has DS but we as a family have been very lucky in so far as we all were able to bond with him immediately and were not faced with the horrendously hard decisions which were made by the birth mothers in this book. although not easy (several operations) life with all our children is a blessing and you get the clear message throughout the book that this is how alex approaches her family life that she is blessed to have them. i laughed out loud and cried quietly ( it was 01:00) and would thoroughly recommend this book to any one with even a passing interest in the subject of life, love & family.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An interesting biopic with dubious accuracy in parts. The stories of these children are nowhere near finished, and I trust that this work will be updated and revised as time goes on.
I don't generally read biographies, but I'm close to these people so I thought I would see if anything was recorded that I didn't already know.

The way the language was used was deliberate. I understand that this can be unhelpful in perpetuating a prejudiced vocabulary, but underlying Alex's story is Bernard Clark's own journey from what might be seen as the society norm (it certainly seemed that society was that way in the late 80s when Alex and Bernard first met) towards his being accepted as almost part of her family. Many reviewers here failed to pick up on that aspect of the work; I found it slightly galling, but once you understand that the author is also telling his tale it becomes part of it. The lack of attention to the more common experience of families during the early days of being gifted with a DS child is purely an artefact of the fact that Alex's children were all adopted for a variety of reasons, and this book is not about the usual experience.
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