by Jody Wind Durfee
Paperback, 136 pages
Published August 2013
by Covenant Communications
Book Source: LDSBA
When Maddi Benson moves in next door to Jaxon Quayle, neither of them knows how much life is about to change. Jaxon knows he should date only girls who share his faith, but as he gets to know Maddi he wants his new neighbor to be more than a friend. To make things even more complicated, there’s Maddi’s twin brother Hadley (or Hadley-Hadley, as he calls himself), who has special needs and always seems to be hanging around, and Jaxon’s pal Tanner, who feels more than a little left out. Jaxon feels hopeful when the Bensons begin to consider joining the Church, which would solve at least one of his problems. But just when things seem to be working out, a horrible prank seems to make everything fall apart, leaving Maddi and Jaxon caught in the middle of doubt and faith, hurt and forgiveness, friendship and love.
Review: I received a copy of Hadley- Hadley Benson from a signing by the author at the LDSBA convention and truly had no idea what to expect. The only thing I knew is that I liked the red chucks on the cover. As soon as I started reading the sweet newness of a High School crush and the every day trials of living with a loved one on the autism spectrum I jumped in. I absolutely beam inside when an author chooses to integrate and feature a character with ASD or special needs, and Jody Wind Durfee does it well. My heart was tugged over the trials Hadley Benson’s family and friends go though to protect both his innocence and his spirit.
Told in the perspective of Jaxon Quayle, a soccer star and ordinary next door neighbor to the Benson family, this is a story of forgiveness and hope. Jaxon knows from the second Maddi Benson moves in that she is someone he wants to get to know better, but Hadley keeps somehow tagging along. Jaxon has a lot of growing up to do and readers get to see his character develop in testimony and awareness of others. Each chapter is very short, which I actually liked. There were only a few glitches in long paragraphs of simple conversation that slowed the pacing of the book, but I sat down and read it all in one Saturday afternoon, finishing in tears.
Jody Wind Durfee has written a relevant and heartfelt YA contemp for the LDS and general audience that I would happily recommend, youth or adult. Her sweet understanding of special needs youth and their caregivers is a message that needs to be shared and I’m so glad she took the time to write Hadley- Hadley Benson!
Highlight with cursor to reveal content: clean, some mild prank related violence and blood from an accident
Second, the volunteers were extraordinary! I’ve attended almost every Summer Games since I began coaching and the people that help are always incredible, but this year, I might have paid more attention to what everybody does. The kitchen staff were always helpful and friendly––and there were a lot of people to feed, the janitorial staff was ON IT, and all of those helping with Healthy Athletes were kind and professional, no matter how many times I interrupted to gather athletes for events.
I can’t begin to mention all of the work the volunteers do, but here are a few things I noticed––they encourage, cheer for, time, announce, stage athletes to prepare for races, guide athletes onto the track, take pictures, tape lines so the athletes (and coaches) aren’t confused about where the athletes need to race, ready medals and ribbons, announce medals, make snow cones, paint faces, sing, dance, set up and take down tents, organize opening and closing ceremonies, listen, share, coach, love and on and on and on. (I haven’t even mentioned the trillions of hours the paid SOUT staff put in.)In addition to all of this, there was something I hadn’t seen before this year. In a corner of the school, there was a back drop, stool, interviewer and camera where people were able to tell their personal Special Olympics story. I’d walk past the area each time I retrieved an athlete from Healthy Athletes. I was always in a hurry, but I still heard little snippets. Some were given by parents or coaches or siblings, volunteers or athletes. Storytelling is always powerful, but I can only imagine the power of these stories and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that one day I’ll be able to tell about the many people with Special Olympics that have influenced me. I’ll be watching for the stories they collected this year.
The thing is, all of these volunteers get together for the incredible, courageous, human, funny, witty, humbling athletes. And I am so thankful they let me be a part of it.