The poignant story of a boy's coming-of-age complicated by Williams syndrome, a genetic disorder that makes people biologically incapable of distrust.
What would it be like to see everyone as a friend? Twelve-year-old Eli D'Angelo has a genetic disorder that obliterates social inhibitions, making him irrepressibly friendly, indiscriminately trusting, and unconditionally loving toward everyone he meets. It also makes him enormously vulnerable. Eli lacks the innate skepticism that will help his peers navigate adolescence more safely--and vastly more successfully.
Journalist Jennifer Latson follows Eli over three critical years of his life as his mother, Gayle, must decide whether to shield Eli entirely from the world and its dangers or give him the freedom to find his own way and become his own person.
By intertwining Eli and Gayle's story with the science and history of Williams syndrome, the book explores the genetic basis of behavior and the quirks of human nature. More than a case study of a rare disorder, however, The Boy Who Loved Too Much is a universal tale about the joys and struggles of raising a child, of growing up, and of being different.
"What is the opposite of autism? What's it like to be born with an insatiable drive to connect, to love others without shyness or reserve? In this humane and fascinating book, Jennifer Latson introduces us to Eli, a boy with the rare genetic disorder of Williams syndrome. She marvels at his capacity for love, but is sensitive as well to the difficulties of raising such a child in an often cruel and unloving world, and the challenges that arise with the emergence of sexual desire. This is a book about a very unusual child, but it's also a thoughtful and moving exploration into the very nature of affection and love."--Paul Bloom, Professor of Psychology at Yale University, and author of Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion
"Latson's haunting book is an intimate look at the relationship between a boy with a rare and fascinating genetic disability and his mother, as she learns over time to stop overprotecting him and allow him to take his own path toward independence. There are valuable lessons for all parents here."--Steve Silberman, author of Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity
Jennifer Latson has written for The Boston Globe, the Houston Chronicle, and Time. She received an MFA in creative nonfiction from the University of New Hampshire and was a recipient of the Norman Mailer Fellowship for nonfiction in 2013.
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