The boy who loved too much
The Boy Who Loved Too Much: A True Story of Pathological Friendliness by Jennifer LatsonThe poignant story of a boy’s coming-of-age complicated by Williams syndrome, a genetic disorder that makes people biologically incapable of distrust.
What would it be like to see everyone as a friend? Twelve-year-old Eli D’Angelo has a genetic disorder that obliterates social inhibitions, making him irrepressibly friendly, indiscriminately trusting, and unconditionally loving toward everyone he meets. It also makes him enormously vulnerable. Eli lacks the innate skepticism that will help his peers navigate adolescence more safely—and vastly more successfully.
Journalist Jennifer Latson follows Eli over three critical years of his life as his mother, Gayle, must decide whether to shield Eli entirely from the world and its dangers or give him the freedom to find his own way and become his own person.
By intertwining Eli and Gayle’s story with the science and history of Williams syndrome, the book explores the genetic basis of behavior and the quirks of human nature. More than a case study of a rare disorder, however, The Boy Who Loved Too Much is a universal tale about the joys and struggles of raising a child, of growing up, and of being different.
Is it possible to love too much? To indiscriminately love complete strangers? It's a rare enough disorder — about 1 in 10, people has it. Unless a cardiologist happens to notice that you have a rare heart defect that's unique to Williams, a lot of people just could go years and years or their whole lives without getting diagnosed. On the symptoms, disabilities and abilities of those with Williams syndrome.
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Jennifer Latson's impressively intimate debut follows three years in the childhood of Eli, who is one of approximately 30, Americans with a genetic disorder called Williams syndrome. People with Williams can have cardiac problems, learning disabilities, motor complications—and a near-total lack of social inhibitions. Hungry for connection and friendship, Eli is irrepressibly open with every stranger he meets; inevitably this backfires, instantly marking him as "different. The emotional heart of the story is Eli's relationship with his single mother, Gayle, who struggles with the impossible question of how to protect her too-trusting son while simultaneously preparing him to chart his own path in a world that is often dangerous for its least-skeptical souls. Erik Love's new book is invaluable for its detailed chronicle of Muslim-American activism. With help from readers who wrote to him about their workplace experiences, anthropologist David Graeber develops a taxonomy of bullshit jobs. A nervous storm cloud of historical might-have-beens—a fitting companion to our age of diffuse paranoia.
Subscribe: iTunes Google Play Music. Imagine having a child who is extremely gregarious, generous and filled with boundless joy. Called Williams syndrome, the condition eliminates the skepticism and social caution that seem hard-wired into most other human beings. Instead, people with Williams typically have an insatiable urge to befriend, trust and touch everyone, even strangers, a social overdrive that leaves them vulnerable to disdain and exploitation. Pamela Paul is the host. You can send them to books nytimes.