In her book, D'Ann tackles the tough topic of raising an autistic child, explaining the symptoms of the disorder in so much detail I felt as if I were right there with the St. Johns witnessing firsthand the struggles and triumphs they went through. The characters are well developed in a way that shows they are far from perfect. Their true, raw emotions - both positive and negative - make them seem real, down to earth and relatable. It was like I had a front row seat where I could personally view the harsh reality of what was happening in their home as they faced their day-to-day challenges.
Not only are the St. Johns struggling with a change in their economic status since Tori left the work force to stay at home and raise their children full-time, but their medical bills are mounting, life is overwhelming, and their marriage becomes rocky as she spends more time focused on the children and less time focused on her husband. Determined to find a "cure" for Gabe's autism, Tori is no pushover and finds herself lobbying medical personnel and the school district for their assistance. She advocates for Gabe at every turn, even at the expense of alienating her husband, Philip, in the process. I really liked Tori's spunk and her ability to not let obstacles stand in her way. I particularly enjoyed the scene where she confronts her husband's co-worker, Delia, and lets her know in no uncertain terms that Philip is "off limits." I wanted to be part of the office's administrative assistant pool just so I could watch their encounter firsthand!
This is the first novel I've read dealing with the issues of adoption and autism, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The story is not preachy at all, yet weaves themes of God's love, provision, forgiveness and redemption throughout it in a way that has wide appeal for both the Christian and the non-Christian audience.
Shining her light for God through her website, D'Ann Renner, believing normal is just a point of view, talks about Dancing From the Shadows where you can read the first chapter for free.