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“This Boy We Made” is the Tale of One Black Mother’s Journey Through Mothering a Chronically Ill Child, Genetics, and Facing the Unknown

by Robyn Smith

This Boy We Made: A Memoir of Motherhood, Genetics, and Facing the Unknown

By Taylor Harris


In her moving memoir, author Taylor Harris traces her son Tophs’ journey as he struggles with difficult, hard-to-categorize hypoglycemia and developmental delays. Whether she’s describing working on independent education plans in the Virginia public school system or rushing her kid to the ER, Harris grounds and guides readers through bigger questions surrounding personhood, intelligence, empathy, and expression. 

This is not an easy read, but it is wholehearted and captivating, with peaks, valleys, and plenty of tension relief (like when Harris segues into her love of Starbucks or describes her son’s instant recall of beloved sitcom lines). Harris also has a knack for drawing readers into her relationship with Christianity and how it motivated her without making one feel like they’d have to share her faith to understand. Especially successful are her vivid depictions of her family, of the roles they’ve played in this journey, and of the ways they remain connected to her. After the final page, one can’t help but hope for a happy ending—one in which Tophs truly thrives. –Robyn Smith

This review originally appeared in BUST’s Winter 2021/2022 print edition. Subscribe today!

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Founded in 1993, BUST is the inclusive feminist lifestyle trailblazer offering a unique mix of humor, female-focused entertainment, uncensored personal stories, and candid reporting that tells the truth about women’s lives.

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