Sun Shine Down Synopsis (a Down syndrome memoir)
What if you dreamed of having a beautiful child and in your mind you saw the life you’d share with that child. First steps, little league (or ballet). Maybe the child would play piano or make you proud on the Honor Roll. There’d be eventual graduations, college, even marriage and grandchildren. You might dream it out that far. Or not.
Every parent has hopes. No parents wish for pain—their own, or a child’s. Then you had a premature delivery in a foreign country. And the words swirling around you said a different kind of “what if.” What if something was wrong? The dream was at risk—or so it seemed. Would you be ready for that? Could you make peace? Or would it take you down?
These are the questions author Gillian Marchenko faced as she woke up after an emergency C-section in Ukraine. Only her newborn child could answer them, in time. But first she had to find a way to hear more than the words “Down syndrome.”
Sun Shine Down Excerpt
Back in my room, shaved and ready for surgery, I perched on the end of the high hospital bed and studied the imperfections on the tan walls. Sergei had gone downstairs to sign papers to allow the surgery. James, Julie and Lydia had gone to search for the nearest waiting room. All of a sudden I felt the need to take everything in. I wanted to remember every detail. A well-polished wooden desk with a matching chair stood against the wall in front of me. Cream-colored curtains with deep pleats framed the window. My stocking feet dangled above the alabaster tile floor. They seemed disconnected from my body.
I thought about Elaina and Zoya sleeping in their Estonian-made bunk beds back at the apartment. Sergei and I searched all over Kiev before purchasing the pale, hardwood beds. Thick cotton blankets were probably tucked up under the girls’ chins. I imagined their Babushka, Sergei’s mother, asleep in the next room, ready to provide a drink of water or a trip to the toilet. I wished I had kissed them goodnight.
I heard footsteps in the hall. The doctor stuck his head through the doorway. “Gotova?” No time for English now.
Endorsements & Reviews for Sun Shine Down
Beautifully written, this memoir is hopeful without being glib.
—Susan Olasky, World magazine
Her voice is that of the girl next door — immensely real, readable, and sympathetic.
—Annette Gendler, Washington Independent Review of Books (read Marchenko interview)
Stunning memoir. A must-read for parents of children with special needs, but anyone would do well to immerse themselves in Marchenko’s story.
—Suzanne Kamata, editor of the anthology Love You to Pieces: Creative Writers on Raising a Child with Special Needs
Shimmering beauty, powerful. Marchenko brought me to new levels of awareness regarding the struggles of a special needs family.
—Bill Giovannetti, author of Secrets to a Happy Life
Honest, real, raw—Sun Shine Down is a page-turner with an important message.
—Mary E. DeMuth, author of The Wall Around Your Heart
From the very first page, Marchenko tugs the heartstrings of anyone who has ever experienced—or wanted to experience—parenthood, leaving us with a broadened view of the universe and a deeper understanding of what it really means to love one another.
—Julie Cantrell, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Into the Free
About Gillian Marchenko
Marchenko is a writer and national speaker who lives in Chicago with her husband Sergei and four daughters. Her work has appeared in numerous publications, including Chicago Parent, Thriving Family, Gifted for Leadership, Literary Mama, Today’s Christian Woman, MomSense Magazine, Charlottesville Family, EFCA Today, and the Tri-City Record. She is also the Vice President of GiGi’s Playhouse Chicago, a Down syndrome Achievement Center.
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