“We are all broken, flawed and imperfect, and I want to encourage people that embracing ‘different’ is right and sound and good. I want to challenge readers to shed fear and ignorance and know that, even if faced with enormous obstacles, decisions, and setbacks, you can come out stronger.” — Scott LeRette, author, The Unbreakable Boy
This month at the Patheos Book Club, we’re discussing the new book The Unbreakable Boy, by Scott LeRette and Susy Flory. This true story is a beautiful and often humorous tale of how a son (Austin) teaches his father (Scott) – and everyone else he encounters – to have faith in God and trust that one day life’s messes will all make sense.
Here, LeRette answers a few questions about his book.
Why did you write The Unbreakable Boy and what do you hope it accomplishes?
My wife, Teresa, and I have suffered through Austin’s broken bones, hundreds of visits to medical facilities, addictions, marriage troubles, and lots of heartache, but it wasn’t until we were forced to admit our young son to a psychiatric ward that we started to understand how different our lives were. I decided to share our story because I know we aren’t the only people in the world facing life’s obstacles and believing that everyone can learn from Austin’s perspective. Every day Austin shows me how to approach life with passion, faith, and grace.
I wrote The Unbreakable Boy to raise awareness of special needs, but our story goes much deeper than that. We are all broken, flawed and imperfect, and I want to encourage people that embracing “different” is right and sound and good. I want to challenge readers to shed fear and ignorance and know that, even if faced with enormous obstacles, decisions, and setbacks, you can come out stronger.
What makes The Unbreakable Boy unique?
My wife, Teresa, and my son, Austin, both suffer from a genetic bone disorder called Osteogenesis Imperfecta, or brittle bone disease. Austin has also been diagnosed with autism, and multiple heart defects. So I started a blog, called Austintistic, to share stories of life with Austin. I love life, even with all the chaos. I didn’t choose it, but it’s mine. So, like Austin, I embrace it and make it mine.
Understand that hurting people sometimes react out of disappointment, frustration, and fatigue and that disagreements or even addiction don’t have to destroy a family. The secret is moving forward with imperfect forgiveness, grace, and lots of humor. If we weren’t crazy, we’d be insane!
Why is this book important and relevant in today’s culture?
Is autism a disability, or another way of being? With the advances in understanding and treating autism, parents of autistic children like Austin may soon be faced with this moral dilemma: Would I fix Austin if I could? Is his autism a disability, or just a different way of experiencing life? Would Austin still be Austin if he were cured (whatever that means) of his autism?
Bullying and discrimination are always a struggle for Austin and those who love him, but Austin has a unique, Gandhi-like approach to his aggressors—he instantly forgives them. Then he loves them to death and tells everyone in earshot exactly how he feels. Being with Austin means always feeling loved.
In the end, knowing Austin means being open to someone who thinks and acts differently, learning to embrace chaos, and choosing to trust love.
Who do you think will benefit most from The Unbreakable Boy, and why?
People struggling with the challenges of autism, disability, caregiving, addictions, financial struggles, and relationship issues—all of which we’ve had to deal with—will find hope and inspiration in Austin’s faith and perseverance. He can show us how to live and love, how to face all the adversity in the world (breaking almost every bone in his body, including his back twice), and yet still triumph. In the end, Austin simply wants every day to be the best day of his life—and we can all learn something from Auz’s fast-forward approach to life.