Book Reviews

About The Unexpected Journey of Caring: The Transformation From Loved One to Caregiver: 

Nobody grows up planning to be a caregiver, but many of us will become one and sometimes when we least expect it. Donna Thomson and Zachary White bring powerful insights to help us understand what it means to be a caregiver and how to truly support those of us who will travel this unexpected journey. (Samir K. Sinha, Director of Geriatrics, Sinai Health System and University Health Network, Toronto and Health Policy Research Director, National Institute on Ageing (Canada))

One is never prepared to be a caregiver for a terminally ill spouse. The physical and emotional consequences of the role are devastating. Thomson and White expertly describe the effects of being a caregiver, including effects one might not be aware of, and the transformation that takes place in our lives because of our caregiving role. (Pamela D. Larsen, PhD, RN, University of Wyoming, editor of Lubkins Chronic Illness: Impact and Intervention (10th Edition))

This is much more than a story about caregiving for a child with a disability. In The Unexpected Journey of Caring: The Transformation from Loved One to Caregiver, Donna Thomson and Zachary White remind us that living as a caregiver is a state of both being and becoming. This book made me think about the importance of providing opportunities for parents of children with disability to share their experiences with caregiving, and to understand what it means for them to be a caregiver. We learn to ask what caregivers need on their journey becoming a complete person. Through this powerful book I hope we dare to have true conversations between caring families and health professionals. After all, caring for caregivers is as much about us (health professionals) as about them (caregiving parents)! To the journey!(Jan Willem Gorter, Director of CanChild Research Center, McMaster University)

Recognizing that each caregiving situation is unique, Zachary White and Donna Thomson bring readers into that life. Common threads bind all caregivers regardless of the illness or relationship to our beloved care recipients. They describe the inexorable transformation into “caregiver” in a story EVERYONE should read. This book details the psyche of caregiving – how it can change you forever; as well as the physical and daily duties of such ‘work’ in easily understood terms. Best of all, it gives caregivers ideas on navigating the inevitable roadblocks and surviving this under-recognized segment of American society – 45 million family caregiving heroes!(Lawrence Bocchiere, President Emeritus/COB, The Well Spouse® Association)

Everyone who spends months and years caring for someone who isn’t getting better will find that Donna Thomson and Zachary White have given voice to their inner feelings and thoughts. They will find comfort and counsel in the authors' wise observations. (Rajiv Mehta, Founder and CEO of Atlas Caregiving)

There are many entry points into a good life for ourselves and those we love. That said, if someone offers you a road map to their version of your worthy end, you ought to be very wary. In this most refreshing and authentic book, no road maps are prescribed. Instead a compass is offered, lovingly brought together from Donna Thomson’s lived experience as a mother, carer and advocate and Zachary White’s experience as an authentic and reflective civic practitioner. Every page is embossed with hard won nuggets of wisdom from each of their domains and the interface between their experiences. If you are searching for genuine companions on the journey towards the Good Life, look no further. (Cormac Russell, Faculty ABCD Institute, Director of Asset-based Community Development in Europe)

Finally! A totally honest assessment of the caregiving experience. Not just another workbook, disease specific account or “how to” book (though there are many helpful guidelines), but a no-nonsense look at the ongoing reality and challenges of how the caregiving experience changes your life. Fear, anger, the unknown—normalcy—are dealt with in a direct, caring and expert manner. Whether you are a “newbie” or a long-term caregiver, this book illustrates all we have in common and gives us guidelines to cope wherever we are in our journey. (Adrienne Gruberg, Founder and President, The Caregiver Space)

The Unexpected Journey of Caring provides insights into the mind and heart of the family caregiver. After reading this book you’ll better understand the caregiving emotions and thoughts which can feel so confusing and lead to so much guilt! Thomson and White share the very good reasons why you feel as you do. They also offer solutions and tools you can use to feel better because you can. If you’re a health care professional, this book will equip you to better understand and help those family caregivers you encounter every day. (Denise M. Brown, founder of and the National Caregiving Conference)

And about The Four Walls of My Freedom: Lessons I've Learned From a Life of Caregiving:

"A clear-eyed look at the value of a life...What if a life was judged not by its monetary worth or possible economic benefit to society, but as a series of complex and rewarding relationships?"
Globe and Mail

"I am so impressed and so moved to get a copy of The Four Walls of My Freedom...It is a wonderful book which is inspiring, informative, and deeply encouraging. And of course I am also very grateful personally to you for your very kind words. It has been a wonderful pleasure for me to meet you and to learn about and be inspired by your ideas on this subject. Your particular insights and engagements make the general commitment we try to advance so much easier to understand, appreciate, and use as guidance."
Amartya Sen

"I am deeply moved by this book. It is about being human, finding wisdom and learning to live in the face of pain. It is about seeing under the suffering and needs of people with disabilities, their value and beauty, their uniqueness and dignity. This book should be read by all who seek to understand what it means to be human."
Jean Vanier, founder of L'Arche

"The Four Walls of My Freedom deals with a very hard situation with realism, grit, and optimism. It will resonate with many."
Margaret Atwood, Twitter: August 4, 2011

"What does it mean to live 'a good life,' and how can we help the most vulnerable people around us to live life to the full? Donna Thomson provides some answers from personal experience in this engaging, challenging, life-enhancing book."
Ian Rankin

"[A] tremendous piece of work. Elegant, honest and inspirational...Caring makes the world go round - it is critical to our individual, family and societal well being."
Vicki Cammack and Al Etmanski, co-founders of PLAN

"Donna Thomson's world changed utterly when she gave birth to a severely disabled son - with a wicked sense of humour...she makes a powerful case for caring to be accorded respect, and demands that we all think about what really matters."  
The Times (UK)

"A LIFELONG JOURNEY - What does it mean to be a good mother? How do you know if you are providing your child iwth the best possible quality of life?   The Four Walls of My Freedom by Donna Thomson is an honest, intelligent account of raising a son born with cerebral palsy, describing a journey through motherhood where regular road maps don't apply.  Loaded with info and insight, this book will resonate with those in a similar situation."
Erin Poetschke, Canadian Living Magazine, April 2011

"In The Four Walls of My Freedom, Donna Thomson traces her family's experience with her son Nicholas' cerebral palsy from diagnosis to his recent 21st birthday. This is the story of the fine balance between caring for Nicholas's physical requirements while nurturing his spirit and tending the needs of the whole family. The personal is political in this book, which is clearly aimed at provoking thought about the rights of persons with disabilities to be valued in society and to live a meaningful life."
Abilities Magazine, Issue 84, Winter 2010/2011


Read Al Etmanski's blog piece about my book here

Read Kristina Chew's reactions on here

Terri Mauro, Editor of "Special Families" reviews the book at here

"Girl With the Cane" Blog reviews the book here


The Globe and Mail

"Disability Writer Donna Thomson's Clear Eyed Look at the Value of a Life" by Elizabeth Renzetti, Sept 5, 2010

Literary Review of Canada

To read a review of 'The Four Walls of My Freedom', written by Nora Gold and published in the November 2010 issue of the Literary Review of Canada, click here.

The Times UK

Geraldine Bedell interviewed me for a story about my life with Nicholas. It was published in The Times (UK) in September 2010. The first page is reproduced below. Click here to download the full PDF version of the article.

 Please note that the photograph and article is the copyright of Times Newspapers Ltd.

Chatelaine Magazine

Nancy Durham's article about me, under the banner of women to watch and entitled 'Fashion Ambassador' was published in Chatelaine magazine in January 2011.  A PDF version of the original is can viewed by clicking here. As well as highlighting the work I do to promote young Canadian fashion designers in London and the rest of the UK, Nancy has written some lovely words about the advocacy work I do to champion the rights of disabled people. I'm grateful that Nancy's article will help to spread the word about "The Four Walls of My Freedom" in Canada. Below is a photo from the article and was taken by Anna Bauer, showing me with Canadian fashion designer, Erdem Moralioglu.