This Boy We Made: A Memoir of Motherhood, Genetics, and Facing the Unknown (Hardcover)
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 and unresponsive. 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. What is she missing?
When Taylor brings Tophs to a long-awaited appointment with a geneticist, she hopes that this time, she’ll leave with answers. The test 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? And how can she choose the best path forward—for herself and for her beautiful, unsolvable boy?
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.
About the Author
Taylor Harris is a writer, wife, and mom to three who lives in Charlottesville, Virginia. Her work has appeared in O Quarterly, The Washington Post, Longreads, The Cut, Romper, Parents, McSweeney’s, and other publications.
"My rule to read everything Taylor Harris writes has never failed me. With wisdom, earnestness, and no small amount of humor, she reflects on parenthood and all of the unanswerable questions it raises, exploring what it means to love a child precious to but distinct from you; to wonder about mysteries you may never solve and a future you cannot possibly know. This Boy We Made is a courageous, exquisite memoir, one that will inspire and help readers understand how we can brave the unknown while living in hope." —Nicole Chung, author of All You Can Ever Know: A Memoir
“As Taylor Harris guides us through the bureaucratic and emotional hoops that come with being a Black mother to a kid with disabilities in America today, she gives us deep insight into what it is to be human. This Boy We Made is written with such love and candor and grace-under-fire—I wanted to hang out forever in Taylor Harris's brain. I want her to be my mom." —Meaghan O'Connell, author of And Now We Have Everything