October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month, and since being designated in the 1980s has been recognized every year since. It is a time to celebrate the accomplishments of those who have Down Syndrome and recognize their abilities. Down Syndrome is the most common genetic disorder, characterized by developmental delays and intellectual disability in many affected. However, individuals who are born with this condition can, and often will live fulfilling and successful lives.
Dianne Bilyak’s novel, Nothing Special: The Mostly True, Sometimes Funny Tale of Two Sisters is about her experience living with a sibling with Down Syndrome. The novel explores growing up while juggling familial dynamics, which include a sibling with a disability and an alcoholic father, through a series of vignettes and anecdotes. Bilyak strikes the perfect balance between critical and compassionate as she tells the real-life story that her family experienced. Despite telling a deeply personal story, Bilyak manages to maintain both heart wrenching and humorous tones to tell an uplifting story about self-acceptance.