The Boy Who Loved Too Much

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A book review of The Boy Who Loved Too Much: a True Story of Pathological Friendliness by Jennifer Latson

A book review of The Boy Who Loved Too Much: a True Story of Pathological Friendliness by Jennifer LatsonStars: *****

Simon & Schuster (2017)
Biography/Special Needs
304 pages

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Summary: 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.

The Boy Who Loved Too Much

This was a very interesting read. I love reading about disorders and conditions that I don’t struggle with so I can learn what life is like for others. This was a nice change from all the memoirs about special needs I’ve read in that it’s not written by the family it’s about, but about a third party who followed the family for years and documented what she saw.

The book is not just about the life of the family and how they deal with Williams syndrome but is intermingled with chapters about the science behind it and where science is at in figuring out how best to help those who struggle with it. It is a good balance of the two I think.

Williams syndrome is more than just pathological friendliness and the book goes into all the other symptoms and how they affect Eli’s life as well. The book mainly covers ages 12-14 although there are stories from when he was younger including his diagnosis and the epilogue talks about the months after the main book ends.

The book is very well written and it was an interesting way to learn about a syndrome that is fairly rare and I otherwise might never know about.  Highly recommended.

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About Kathleen

I've been a nonfiction lover for as long as I can remember. I love children's nonfiction as well and love to share my knowledge and the books I gained them from, with the world. I wish more people would give nonfiction a chance.