Review: Growing Children
By Nadia Bruce-Rawlings
This is quite the novel. I read it in one sitting, having just given up in disgust on another book I was trying to read. Mr. Berrios has written a real page-turner in Growing Children. This is a tale of a single, drunkish dad trying hard to get over losing his wife and to raise their autistic son... it starts in the year 2042. He desperately wants to fulfill his and his wife’s dream of having four children in total, but is unwilling to commit to another relationship. In a drunken quest, he ends up committing to a black-market science project, essentially growing three children from his wife’s corpse. He plays God, and hilarity does not ensue…
Told as a recording made by the dad, Jim Simple, in first person, Berrios does a wonderful job of character development. We love Jim, despite his many faults, which he tries to explain without too many excuses. It is clear he is disappointed in his severely autistic son Robin, and wishes for a “perfect” family of “perfect” children. Unfortunately, as you can guess, his method of obtaining them completely backfires. It will have you questioning your morals somewhat, as you empathize with some of the horrendous ways that Jim Simple responds to his life.
“Yes, I got him help, but at the end of the day, an Olympic runner isn’t going to teach a fucking thing to a paraplegic. I knew that Robin was dealing with an affliction of the mind, and no amount of soft talking gurus were going to pull him out from the deep. It’s controversial to say, but true.”
Jim Simple often speaks of the thin line between love and hate. His quest for love, for a “perfect” family to drown out the hatred he often feels toward Robin is a far cry from those sweet saccharine stories we read of the perfect family who stand by their special-needs child through thick and thin. And yet it rings true which is a testament to Berrios’ wonderful writing skills. Apparently this is quite different from his previous work, but I really want to read more by him. Such insight into humanity and all our faults.