Sarah Swindell (2019)
Reviewed by Sheri Hoyte for Reader Views (11/19)
“Rounding Home: A Memoir of Love, Betrayal, Heartbreak, and Hope with an Intimate Look into Raising a Child with Severe Autism” is the touching story of Sarah Swindell and her family. Sarah is a commercial actress/model, mother of four (one with Severe Autism) and wife of former Major League Baseball player, Greg Swindell. Tender, authentic, no-holds-barred, “Rounding Home” takes readers through the whirlwind that is life with the Swindell’s. It is a story you will remember for a long while, an unflinching account that will leave an imprint on your heart and in your mind.
When Sarah, a newly divorced mother of a toddler moves from a small town in New Mexico to the big city life in Houston, Texas, she has no way of knowing she will meet her great true love, but that’s exactly what happens. Suddenly, Sarah’s life takes on a fairy-tale-like quality. She marries MLB pitcher Greg Swindell, and the two of them build a family while balancing the demands of the baseball world. But the fairytale does not last long as their youngest child, Dawson, is diagnosed with Severe Autism at the age of eighteen months. The Swindell’s experience trials in all areas of their lives, any one of which has the capacity to destroy them for good. With betrayal, loss, heartbreak, grief, trauma, and helplessness, there is barely time to breathe, and certainly no time to process anything, because regardless of whatever else is going on, there is an innocent young boy whose needs cannot take a time-out. “Rounding Home” reveals the intimate journey of an entire family told through Sarah’s perspective and it is nothing short of remarkable.
Just WOW. Sarah boldly reveals her entire life with complete openness, laying everything out on the table with vulnerability and courage. It is a well-constructed narrative that reads like a novel and I found myself tearing through page after page just to see what happens next. Merely glimpsing into the life of her family, an outsider will never really know what Sarah and her family have been through unless they’ve filled similar shoes, but Sarah does a brilliant job of relaying the right amount of description and feelings, enlightening the reader and giving them space to hold compassion and empathy for everything the Swindell’s experience.
I come away from the reading feeling like I know the entire family. What I love most about Sarah is her willingness to show the reader ALL of her. Her ups and downs, her insecurities and her strengths, her decisions, whether good, bad, or questionable. I will say that Sarah is extremely hard on herself, often apologetic during the telling. For instance, she apologizes for being able to afford help around the house. Don’t apologize, girl – it’s part of your story!
Dawson’s story is heartbreaking, and readers may wonder how Sarah survived it all. But parents know – it’s just what you do. And, while I’ve never gone through anything close to what Sarah has been through with Dawson, I am a mother and have those same “mama-bear vibes.” The vibes that give you superhuman will and determination to protect your babies, no matter the cost.
There are many experiences throughout the book that a wide audience will relate to, it’s not just about Dawson and his Autism, but the rest of the family as well. The unintended outcomes of how a child with special needs affects the entire family is well demonstrated and thoughtfully articulated. Throughout the story a sense of hope, love, and commitment radiate and hold strong, and these are the ingredients that provide inspiration to others. I highly recommend “Rounding Home: A Memoir of Love, Betrayal, Heartbreak, and Hope with an Intimate Look into Raising a Child with Severe Autism” by Sarah Swindell to all parents, lovers, friends and family. It’s a truly noteworthy story.