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Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado

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Book Review: Lessons From Jacob
by Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado   
Rated "G" by the Author.
Last edited: Thursday, December 27, 2007
Posted: Thursday, December 27, 2007

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A book that I highly recommend, particularly for those who are parenting children who are severely handicapped, and the lessons these very special children can teach the rest of us.

I have recently obtained a book that I can't seem to put down; it is that good.

The book in question is "Lessons From Jacob: A Disabled Son Teaches His Mother About Courage, Hope, And The Joy Of Living Each Day To The Fullest", written by the boy's mother, Ellen Schwartz.

Ellen's oldest son, Jacob, was seemingly born healthy, but at about six months old, he began exhibting subtile signs, signs that may have pointed to a serious problem. The baby had trouble holding his head up, and he seemed floppy in nature. His doctor suspected something sinister was going on, so he had the child see a geneticist and other medical specialists, to see what was going on.

Much to his mother and father's dismay, the boy was found to have Canavan Disease, which is, simply put, a neurodegenerative disease that usually kills children before they reach the age of four (although some have lived to their teens or even twenties).

It primarily strikes children who are of Eastern European lineage; it is similar to Tay Sach's, which is another killer of children.

Children with CD can't walk, crawl, see, talk, or even eat; there is progressive disability, and children are often left unable to do even the simplest things. It strikes people of Eastern European lineage.

Jacob is now ten, and he continues to defy the odds. Somehow in his helplessness he has overcome great strides; anyone who meets him in person is instantly touched, moved. He is in a wheelchair, he is tube fed, he is incontinent, he is blind, and he requires medical care twenty four hours a day; yet, according to his mother, he loves life, lives it to the full.

He is nothing short of a miracle.

This book will move you, at times to the point of tears. It is very well written, and it explains in simplistic language the joys (and challenges) of parenting a child with such severe special needs. It's also taught me about Canavan disease, and the research being done to find a cure or help sufferers of the disease have a more meaningful life, not only for them, but for their families or friends.

I highly recommend this book. It will make one think of the potential of acceptance of those who are severely handicapped and the special situations that parents of severely handicapped children have to face on a day to day basis. It is not a very big book in size, but it packs an eomtional wallop that won't soon be forgotten!

For more information about Canavan disease, or about this brave little boy, go to Jacobs Ladder; their web address is You can find the book at either Barnes and Noble ( or Amazon (, if you have difficulty locating it in your local bookstore; I am sure that they'd be happy to order it for you if you ask for it.

Reader Reviews for "Book Review: Lessons From Jacob"

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Reviewed by Cindy Tuttle 11/16/2008
Hi Karen,
What a great review! Sounds like it is a great book!
With Love,
Reviewed by Mary Grace Patterson 2/2/2008
A great sharing Karen. Jacob is truely a wonder! When I first started to read it , I thought perhaps he had Cerebal palsey, such as Joshua had. I have not heard of this disease, but I can relate to what his parents must have gone through all these years and Jacob too.I hope many will read his story... God Bless,,,M
Reviewed by Phyllis Jean Green 1/14/2008
Thank you so much, Karen!! The disorder is new to me. . .though the
story reminds me a great deal of Jeff Apple and his family {re the biography I wrote on behalf of Jeff's mother, Pat). Just when we think that life isn't worth it -- that there is simply too much evil for it not to win --, along comes someone like Jacob and his courageous and compassionate family to set us straight! VERY INSPIRING. Also very educational. Thank you again. . .a million
times over!! xOx Pea xOx -- PS: Your reviews are wonderful. . .too!:)
Reviewed by Regis Auffray 1/10/2008
Thank you for sharing this informative review, Karen. Amour et paix,

Reviewed by Michelle Kidwell Power In The Pen 1/8/2008
I will definitely have to look into this book. thanks for the heads up
God Bless
Reviewed by Joyce Bowling 12/27/2007
Peeks the curiosity of your readers...sounds like a really good book...thanks for posting this book review my friend! I think I would enjoy this book as well. Take care my friend!
Joyce B.
Reviewed by Emile Tubiana 12/27/2007
Dear Karen, We use the word "Love" too much, but in fact love is always unconditionnal, as God's love is always at our disposal and a non stop sacred stream. Thank you for bringing up this subject.
Reviewed by Karla Dorman, The StormSpinner 12/27/2007

I know you like the book--you haven't put it down! LOL A fascinating peek into what unconditional love is. Thank you for sharing this one. :)

(((HUGS))) and love, Karla.
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