I have really enjoyed reading this book and experiencing Katherine’s journey through her life as a person who stutters. I was asked to discuss the major takeaways from this book, which seems difficult because there were so many great challenges, experiences, and successes throughout the book. The two major takeaways that I feel were really important are: 1) ‘stuttering does not have any neat answers’ and 2) ‘happiness and fluency do not walk hand in hand.’ These ideas are so important and are woven throughout the book and really stand out as central themes.
The first theme, or idea, relates to the fact that there is no cookie cutter approach to stuttering therapy and no ‘magic pill’. Throughout her life, Katherine is searching for an answer or a ‘cure’ for her stutter, but never really finds it. She describes stuttering as a ‘messy condition full of gray areas’ that will be her ‘steady companion’ for the rest of her life. Through her experiences and growth, she has found some of the answers she was looking for and feels empowered and ‘better armed’ with knowledge and understanding. She becomes better at handling moments of dysfluency and has even learned to laugh at them, instead of allowing them to be defined and archived as the worst days or moments in her life.
The second theme is all about Katherine discovering who she is, embracing her stutter and respecting that it has played an important role in the person she has become. At the end of the book, Katherine really speaks about acceptance of her stutter and how it has defined who she is in so many ways. “I have seen all of my flaws and vulnerability lain across every room I have entered. I have witnessed the frailty and strength of my heart. It has made me humble; it has made me cry more violently and love more deeply; it has shown me the finest in people and the worst in them; it has made me sensitive to the world around me.” She says that her stutter is the best part of her in many ways and she isn’t sure who she would be without it. All of her experiences throughout her life have helped define who she is today. After two decades, she realizes that fluency does not equal happiness and that everyone has problems in this ‘messy, complicated’ world, but it is how we choose to address them that determines the power they have over us.
After reading this book, I feel it has empowered us as therapists to better understand where a person who stutters comes from and that stuttering is a complex communication disorder with no specific cure that impacts individuals’ lives in so many different ways.
-Allison Forrester, SLP at Noe Middle, Manual High, and PACT at U of L
Lauren Wempe, SLP at Atkinson Elem., put together a graphic organizer, much like we might use with our kiddos, to recap the story: