I Not David (and Sequel) by Kameo Monson

Synopsis of I Not David

When three-year-old Joey is diagnosed with autism, Kat’s heart sinks. With a single phone number and a few suggested therapies, she and her husband Derek are left to wade through the unknown abyss of ASD. Derek assures Kat their son will grow out of it, but she has done enough research. That never happens. Still, Joey can improve, and Kat vows to make his life better any way she can.

Jumping feet first into the depths of therapies and developmental preschool, Kat gives it her all. Everything should get easier. But Derek still can’t handle Joey’s meltdowns, and now he only wants to spend time with her. What happens if his attitude doesn’t change?

As Kat’s world continues to crumble around her, she finds something in herself that she didn’t know was missing.

I Not David: Finding Me Book One is a character-driven, women’s fiction novel that evokes emotion as it twists and turns through silly smiles and torturous tantrums, love and loneliness, and everything in between.

My Review of I Not David

While my experiences are vastly different from those in I Not David, I feel no parent is exempt from overwhelm, stress, and guilt from some traumatic health experiences with their children and so can benefit from reading about another mother’s journey through these paralyzing emotions. Reading a book like this can also enable us to understand children with a disability and react compassionately.

The game Kat invents to teach her son Joey how to tell others his name is very sweet and is the basis for the title of the book. Her mom intuition proves correct multiple times. Her reoccurring dream turns out true too. It is hard to say whether that was just stress, intuition, or from God.

While I don’t know what it’s like to have a toddler or teen who cries half the day, I do know what it feels like to listen to endless crying during the night and be exhausted to tears. I admire all the moms and dads who care for their children with disabilities so courageously as Kat depicts in this story.

Parents don’t give up on their children. Not really. Not the good ones.”

Unfortunately her husband doesn’t do any research himself either to learn more about autism. He is disgusted by the amount of effort Kat expends to prevent Joey’s meltdowns. The public meltdowns embarrass him a lot which causes a lot of tension in their marriage. This part of the novel was so well written I felt anxiety while reading his angry complaints. I decided to use this as a time to work on releasing emotions built up from my own past traumatic experiences.

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I Not David shows how overwhelming an autism diagnosis is for a family. There is so much to learn while dealing with everyday reality and new therapeutic resources. Reading about Kat’s endless research reminded me of all the researching I did on special diets and natural health techniques after learning how ill my son was.

Ginger smiled wanly. “Well, maybe. You never know.” Looking down at the table, she picked up the forms as she said, “I’ll need you to send me copies of his birth certificate, social security card, and proof of residence by next week.”

Kat handed Ginger the documents. “I copied them for you earlier.” This is ridiculous.

“Great. You should receive notification within thirty days letting you know whether or not he qualifies.”

Kat rolled her eyes.

Kameo Monson includes beautiful imagery in I Not David. I particularly enjoyed her use of leaves dying and growing to mirror the action.

The novel ends on a sad yet hopeful note. The afterword from the author’s life about her experiences with autism is inspiring.

I received a free advanced reader copy of this book. All opinions are completely my own.

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Book Links
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*** SPOILER ALERT ***

The following review of the sequel has a major spoiler for I Not David. You may want to read I Not David first before reading the review of I Daddy

Synopsis of I Daddy (the sequel)

After seeing Joey lying in a hospital bed, Derek knows the truth. He’s no good for Kat or Joey. Gathering his courage–or cowardice–he leaves.

Determined to find work, he ends up in Williams, Arizona, with an eccentric boss, who offers him a place to stay… if he can get past the Betsy the guard mule. Derek works hard, growing his boss’ business and making friends along the way. But no matter what Derek does, thoughts of Joey continue to pummel his mind. Will he ever see his son again? Can he make the necessary changes in his life?

A story filled with the heartache of a father wanting to change and the love of others willing to see past his insecurities. I Daddy invites readers of the Finding Me Series to discover what happens to Derek. Whether it’s good or bad? That’s for you to decide.

I Daddy is best read after I Not David, but can stand on its own if the reader desires.

My Review of I Daddy

I went into this book hoping Derek would return home to Kat and Joey. It was beyond disappointing to see this was not the case.

Derek left his family when Kat became infuriated with him as a result of a nearly deadly accident Joey had. Kat eventually forgave him but he never returned. When divorce papers arrive in I Not David, Kat still hadn’t been able to contact him by phone as he immediately ditched his cellphone and quit his job. I wonder why she didn’t send a letter to him via the post office box noted in the divorce papers. She must have eventually signed and mailed the divorce papers, I suppose, as the divorce is finalized in I Daddy.

As much as the divorce no longer upset him, leaving Joey tormented Derek. He’d do anything to see his son again. Anything. Abandoning him hadn’t been the answer. It’s why he’d finally determined to find a way to apologize and work toward visitation.

It doesn’t make sense that Derek’s love for Kat lessened but for Joey grew! He finds a new job far from his old home. Overtime he develops a relationship with a woman he works with who, ironically, also has a child with autism. This is so heartbreaking as his difficulty dealing with autism caused most of the difficulties in his marriage previously! He commits to this new relationship but is torn over his lost relationship with his son.

How would he keep himself from causing those two beautiful girls agony?

What about Kat and all the agony he caused her?

Marriage is a sacred contract between a man, a woman, and God. And so it is not something that we should take lightly. We form strong bonds in a relationship that cause wounds when severed.

In the case of these books, there was no abuse or other serious issues that could not be overcome through a commitment to forgive and keep trying. I promise things get better when we involve God in prayer. He has a way of healing all wounds.

I’ve been thinking about the emotional trauma caused by a family member leaving a lot recently as one of my ancestors left his wife and children. There must have been so much agony for his wife and his children.

In the self-help book I recently reviewed, Soul Mend by Luann Dunnuck, the author talks about generational issues in a scriptural and physical sense. Negative emotions can be passed down through the generations and cause physical illnesses not released. Some emotions and false beliefs that could stem from someone leaving are feelings (or fears) of abandonment and a lack of self confidence including felling that you aren’t good enough or lovable. Yet these are just a small part of the insecurities that result from abandonment or even divorce.

Clearly, these can cause problems with relationships in the present for those who have gone through this issue and for their descendants. I’ve noticed this with family members and in my own life. Trusting other people and committing to a relationship can become extremely difficult.

Thankfully God has ways to help us reverse and fix these things. It takes a lot of effort and prayer. I’m grateful for his help with with healing those issues.

While I wish I could recommend I Daddy because of the excellent writing, I don’t. The story I Not David ended in a hopeful enough spot. In my mind, it’s great to leave it there.

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Book Link
* Available exclusively on Kameo Monson’s website for Free

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