small talk (about BIG things)

10403280_10152825458778308_2493628249752833846_nI’m having the pleasure of reading Amy Julia Becker’s newest book, small talk. I expect you will enjoy it as well.

Amy Julia Becker is a mom of three who writes for a number of sites. She maintains a blog at Christianity Today, writes for the New York Times Motherlode blog, and appears often at a variety of other on-line sites. She has graciously hosted a couple of guest posts from me, and I have reviewed her on-line book for women about prenatal testing.

In her latest book, small talk, Becker does what I expect all of us parents wish that we did. Every parent will marvel at some of the insightful comments their young children make, hence the phrase, “from the mouth of babes …”. But, most all of us will fail to document these insights. Not only did Becker document those comments, but she wrote an entire book about them.

Chapter headings include: gratitude, God, love, and marriage. While this book is titled small talk, it is about BIG things. And, while much of the book is a candid exposition of Becker’s questions and personal revelations about her Christian faith, the discussion of these issues can be enjoyed by any reader, regardless of their faith background.

Becker writes in a way that makes me envious. Her prose, pace, and word choice convey an open, welcoming feel, drawing the reader into a conversation with Becker. Her writing sounds quiet, questioning without confronting or judging. It’s a style that fits perfectly for thoughts inspired by the words of small children about issues that we all wrestle with.

Given the focus of this blog on prenatal testing and Down syndrome, I think readers of Becker’s latest book will gain some valuable understanding about what it means to have a child with Down syndrome:

  • How Becker honestly struggled with accepting Penny as she is and how now Becker cannot imagine Penny any other way;
  • The lessons Penny has taught Becker (see the chapters on “waiting” and “beauty”); and,
  • How for Becker’s other children, what their sibling experience is like.

I expect for many, they will be surprised by how Penny enjoys reading, singing hymns from memory, and her typical interaction with her little brother and sister. As a parent of a daughter with Down syndrome, I enjoyed how Becker discusses Penny having Down syndrome, but in a way where the reader will see Penny first as a little girl, sometimes even forgetting she has an extra 21st Chromosome.

There is more I would like to share about Becker’s new book. My copy already is filled with notations in the margins of every chapter. But, with the book not even in bookstores, yet, I’m reticent to give away a spoiler inadvertently.

So, instead, I will direct your attention to Becker’s webpage for her new book. If you order by midnight October 27, 2014 (which will mean TODAY for many of you reading this), you have the opportunity to pre-order and receive many bonuses, including the chance to chat with Becker personally.

Becker’s small talk is what long-time readers have come to expect from her writing: inviting, thoughtful discussion about important issues written in a non-judgmental, insightful way. If that sounds like something you would enjoy reading, I encourage you to buy Becker’s new book, small talk.


  1. Michele Onciano says:

    Hi Mark – my previous pregnancy 8 months ago was diagnosed as T18 through Harmony and confirmed by amniocentesis. What are my chances that my current pregnancy (11 weeks) will also be T18? I tested low risk last time for T21 & T13.

    • Michelle: I don’t know what your chance for T18 would be based on having a previous pregnancy positive for T18. For T21, the rule of thumb is that your baseline chance automatically goes to 1%, though it is a bit more refined than that as explained by the NSGC guidelines (see page 3, Table 1). I would encourage you to see what the T18 Foundation says and consult with a genetic counselor.

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