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Always Liza to Me

A Memoir for My Silent Sister

Always Liza to Me by Cecilia Rice
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Liza is different. She can't talk. She can't walk properly. She's funny-looking. When we're out with her other kids stop and stare. When she upsets people or tries to bite or scratch them we're told to tell then, its not her fault, she doesn't understand. Our mother is a square, our father wheezes all the time, we drive around in a crazy-looking car. One brother wears glasses and licks snails and there's a trail of babies. My sister and I get pointed at all the time ‘Oh look, twinnies!'. All I want is for us to be like everyone else. But we can never be like everyone else.

This is the story of the Rice family, and of Liza, Cecilia Rice's severely mentally retarded sister. It's a story about what it was like growing up in a large and chaotic family that is forever in the thrall of this unknowable, unreachable child. As children, the kids in Cecilia's family always believed Liza would not survive to adulthood and that therefore she would never be their problem.

With warmth, wisdom and humour, Cecilia shows us how, over the years, the family came to think of their problem as their sister and how, through a mysterious process of acceptance and forgiveness, their fears and resentment turned into attachment and love.

While on the face of it this is a memoir about the difficulties, challenges, stresses and rare rewards of caring for a disabled child, it is more than anything a story about family. Eloquently told in a very personal, entertaining and engaging voice, Liza to Me is an uplifting true story of how even the most dysfunctional and mixed-up of families can teach us great lessons and inspire great love.

Allen & Unwin; June 2009
304 pages; ISBN 9781741761771
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Title: Always Liza to Me
Author: Cecilia Rice