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Publisher's Summary

"He says you'll never be hurt as much by being open as you have been by remaining closed."

The messenger is a school janitor with a master's in art history who claims to be channeling "from both sides of the veil." "He" is Adam, a three-year-old who has never spoken an intelligible word. And the message is intended for Martha Beck, Adam's mother, who doesn't know whether to make a mad dash for the door to escape a raving lunatic (after all, how many conversations like this one can you have before you stop getting dinner party invitations and start pushing a mop yourself?) or accept another in a series of life lessons from an impeccable but mysterious source.

From the moment Martha and her husband, John, accidentally conceived their second child, all hell broke loose. They were a couple obsessed with success. After years of matching IQs and test scores with less driven peers, they had two Harvard degrees apiece and were gunning for more. They'd plotted out a future in the most vaunted ivory tower of academe. But the dream had begun to disintegrate. Then, when their unborn son, Adam, was diagnosed with Down syndrome, doctors, advisers, and friends in the Harvard community warned them that if they decided to keep the baby, they would lose all hope of achieving their carefully crafted goals. Fortunately, that's exactly what happened.

Expecting Adam is a poignant, challenging, and achingly funny chronicle of the extraordinary nine months of Martha's pregnancy. By the time Adam was born, Martha and John were propelled into a world in which they were forced to redefine everything of value to them, put all their faith in miracles, and trust that they could fly without a net. And it worked.

Martha's riveting, beautifully written memoir captures the abject terror and exhilarating freedom of facing impending parentdom, being forced to question one's deepest beliefs, and rewriting life's rules. It is an unforgettable celebration of the everyday magic that connects human souls to each other.

©1999, 2011 Martha N. Beck, Ph.D. (P)2012 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"Wickedly funny and wrenchingly sad memoirs of a young mother awaiting the birth of a Down syndrome baby while simultaneously pursuing a doctorate at Harvard.... Even skeptics will find magic in this story, and parents of a Down syndrome child will cherish it." ( Kirkus)

What listeners say about Expecting Adam

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

True Life Fairy Tale

Post-reading the book:

I laughed. I cried. I felt inspired and motivated. She says what others think but are too politically correct (PC) in the Midwest often to repeat. She holds nothing back and leaves you thinking. So many parts of the story leave you with tingles up your spine or arm. It's rare that any book gives me such a wide range of emotion. I listened to the whole thing in a day, couldn't stop. Almost hard to believe its real but I've had similar things happen, minus maybe seeing long distances or seeing 'angels'.

At first I wasn't so sure about the narrator, but trust me she immediately will grow on you, give her a chapter or two so that you can settle into the story. I went into this book with little to no good expectations. None. I thought I might mildly like it at best. I loved it. I rarely cry to books or movies. This is the kind of book that makes you want to live life fuller.

Similar books in my opinion would be: EAT Pray Love, The Alchemist (or any book by Paulo Coelho), and The Last Lecture. Those are some of my favorite books by the way, so if you haven't read them I urge you to do so.

This book reads like a novel; like a story. It's so vivid and so full of character that at some points you wonder if more of the story is false than just character names. You will hate some of the characters and love others. You will, and you will wonder their side of the story.

My thoughts mid-book (up to reading chapter 7- I stopped to write this mid-listen):

A true story that reads like a fairy tale. She's not very PC and very blunt. The narrator has a deeper voice, sounds older than most narrators on audible, it's so blunt; at first I didn't like her but the narrator suits the story.

The story is all about a woman; a wife; a mother who gets pregnant. Where does the magic come in? It does sound absurd but truthful. I've known similar miracles to happen, even to me but on a much smaller scale. If I hadn't experienced miracles or odd coincidences at some point in my own life this story would be hard to believe (post-reading: after reading the book I'd say impossible to believe).

She calls the forces of the world or God... well she makes it sound like angels or whatever are puppeteers and we are puppets. In her own story that reads so true.

I'm only to chapter 7, she's still pregnant and struggling at Harvard but so much is coming together for her. Fated. Destined. I believe it because I know these things can happy but she is so matter of fact. It is a nice reminder that our lives don't have to be mundane. We have destinies and God is looking out for us at every turn if we let him.

Inspired. Motivated.

I can relate to her in almost every way except that I have never gotten married or had children yet; including some of the very brash non-politically correct (pc) perspectives. I imagine I would go through a similar flow of turmoil and working through the issues in similar ways as she has this far into the book. I'm a little ashamed to admit that but I've wondered more than once what it would be like to have my future unborn children be born with *any* disability; it's scary to imagine and to worry about family being hurt.

The story is intriguing and I'm very interested as to where the story will go next.

After finishing the book:

I loved the book. A++++ I only gave the performance 4 stars because there was something a little off putting at first about the narrator's style, but she picks up after a bit and you fall in love with the book.

3 people found this helpful

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Disappointing

The beginning chapters were very interesting and the author is gifted in writing and story-telling, but as a fellow mother of a child with Down syndrome, I found this author to be very self-absorbed. I got halfway through the book and she had shared little about her child and was still talking about her choatic life and pregnancy. I wanted to finish to find out more about her son, but I got weary of the author repeatedly lamenting how hard it was to be pregnant....yet she went onto have another child after this one. Sorry, you’ve lost me.

I also had a choatic pregnancy that landed myself and my premature child with Ds in the hospital her first 18 months of life. I try to be empathetic towards others but this book just went way overboard.

2 people found this helpful

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Uncomfortably Honest

A brutally honest account of coming to terms with having a disabled child and how life changes, both the good stuff and the bad. There were moments of discomfort but I realize that’s not because the author was being inappropriate or rude, but because she was relaying honest truths, and sometimes such truths are hard to hear.

The book progressed well and had that uncommon quality of not wanting to put it down but afraid to hear the rest. A very good read for people with children with disabilities because it reassures you that even when you have awful thoughts about your “broken” child, you’re not the only one who has ever thought that about your child, and that’s okay.

2 people found this helpful

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Listen up

Martha Beck invites readers/listeners to listen much more intently and broadly to the messages coming our way. Her story is poignant, smart and engaging. Excellent reader with a wide variety of expression and pleasant pacing.

1 person found this helpful

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Delightful!

I thought that this would be a reasonably depressing memoir, albeit a thoughtful and insightful one. But instead, it was a delightful tale of a woman transformed from a Harvard intellectual to an individual who is open to mystery, a world filled with angels, and unexpectedly joyful events. I would highly recommend this book to anyone seeking to live a more joyful life!

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  • cj
  • 12-05-21

I wish I’d read this story 15 years ago….

I’ve read all of Becks books, I can’t seem to get enough of her wisdom. It started with her latest book, “The Way of Integrity”, which started to change my life immediately, like it was the missing ingredient that is been searching for. Now I’m working my way chronologically backwards in her life’s work. Everything about her life is familiar yet inspirational to me. Her narrative is helping me RE write my own story. You know it’s a good book when you start to read slower the closer you get to the end, just to savor the last few bits.

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poor poor You! cant own up to your own problems..

struggled to finish ! because decided this book isnt about adam its about bashing the great lds faith..... sorry you all dont have the true light of christ in your life or you wouldnt be focusing on things as you did..
all faiths and politically points shouldnt be allowed be aired in novels..

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Fantastic and unusual and true story.

Everyone should read this. It was published as fiction, but the author makes it very clear that every word is actually true. It changes the way you will see the world, as it changed their family’s life path.

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Well Written Journey

Well written journey of having a child with a disability. Really shows that until you really have to experience something, you may never truly understand. This book does enlighten all who don't have any experiences with disabilities.

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Great audio book!

I did not know what to expect. I found myself so emerged and truly enjoyed listening to it! I bought the book but I am a slow reader. I will definitely be reading this book and read it at my own pace. Would definitely recommend it!