Wordjazz for Stevie

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 06 March, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 06 March, 2011, 12:00am

Wordjazz for Stevie
by Jonathan Chamberlain
Blacksmith Books HK$104

If you had to choose just one book that celebrates life in the face of extreme adversity, make it Jonathan Chamberlain's loving paean to his beloved but departed daughter, Stevie. Stevie was born with Down's syndrome and a heart impairment, to the shock of Jonathan and his wife, Bernadette. What makes this heartfelt account compulsive reading is not only that it sidesteps any mawkishness but that it unfolds in our own backyard - Cheung Chau, complete with its richly drawn local characters. It is a testament to how individuals can rise above the seemingly insurmountable with courage and steadfastness. Not least because Bernadette contracted cancer and died not long after the couple's daughter. The reader's spirit soars when Stevie encounters a rare run of luck then plunges when it heartbreakingly turns against her. Time after time, Chamberlain recalls scenes that are breathtaking for people's cruelty, selfishness or thoughtlessness - parts of the medical community included. But what the reader will remember is his unflinching love for a child whose smile radiates from the front cover, and his admiration for his wife.