Estreich was distraught when his daughter was born with Down syndrome and a badly damaged heart which would require surgery. He struggled with grief and fear and uncertainty about the best plan for her life and his family's.
The title refers to the trait common to those with Down syndrome: slanted eyes which can initially, in families with any Asian heritage, be thought to be a racial inheritance. In reality the eye shape is one characteristic of those having an extra chromosome, those who will struggle with mental limitations for an often abbreviated lifetime.
Estreich's daugher is now twelve, can read and attends a mainstream school. She fights with her sister and can be stubborn at home when displeased with a situation, not unlike other children her age.
None of this happened easily or instantly. Estreich's poignantly honest book is a true and refreshing look at the struggles of a family who chose to raise a handicapped child. He allows his own anger, frustration, fear and pain -- and his joy, surprise and pride -- to come through in the well-written narrative.
Estreich notes the progress made in how society views the disabled, saying he knew his daughter would be able to go to public school and will have a chance for a job and a life of her own.
In an editorial to the "New York Times" Estreich commented on a waiter who refused to serve people who would not sit near a family with a Down syndrome child The irate diners told the waiter "special" children did not belong with regular diners.
Estreich concludes, "Beneath the human interest story ... is a story about who counts as human. For parents of children with Down syndrome like me, every daily act is an answer. What I live for, though, is the day when the question doesn't come up."
The book is highly recommended for all, not just for those who are directly affected by Down syndrome. The compassionate lessons are good reminders for all.