Pub Date: October 24, 2023

Author: Cristina Nehring

In 2009 Cristina Nehring’s brilliant first book, A Vindication of Love, was featured on the cover of the New York Times Book Review. An important new voice had appeared in American letters. Just as suddenly, Nehring seemed to disappear—only to reemerge like a bolt from the blue.

“Now unexpectedly from Paris comes a heartbreaking and tender memoir, The Child Who Never Spoke, that explains her years of silence. These ‘lessons in fragility’ tell of Nehring’s unexpected pregnancy and birth of a ‘special child,’ a baby girl with Down syndrome in its most extreme form. Forthright, profound, and passionate, this new book is also a vindication of love. Although it tells a story full of sorrow, The Child Who Never Spoke is a not a sad book but a profound and joyous testament to the love between a mother and daughter.”

—Dana Gioia, California poet laureate and author of Can Poetry Matter?


“A colorful, harrowing, engrossing account of mothering in extremis by one of the world’s last bohemians and true free spirits. Nehring has a lot to teach the rest of us about finding adventure and joy during times of…crisis.”
—Katie Roiphe author of In Praise of Messy Lives and editor of Janet Malcolm: The Last Interview and Other Conversations


“Yes, there are hard-won lessons to be wrung from Cristina Nehring’s ongoing odyssey as the single mother of a Down syndrome child and spun into lyric wisdom. But The Child Who Never Spoke: 23½ Lessons in Fragility is more than a guidebook to the uses and unexpected gifts of adversity. It is a love story, an adventure tale, an impetuous travelog, and a suspenseful medical saga (you can almost hear the hospital beeps in the background, the shuffle of footsteps down the halls) borne along by Nehring’s buoyant breadth of spirit and the unbreakable bond with her daughter Eurydice. And the writing! So elegant and intimate. It’s like hearing from a cherished friend after way too long.” 
—James Wolcott, author of the memoir Lucking Out and the essay collection Critical Mass


“One of the most graceful, tender and wise books I have ever read.”

—Christina Hoff Sommers, Senior Fellow Emeritus, American Enterprise Institute; author of The War on Boys


“Cristina Nehring is an extraordinary writer and this memoir tells an extraordinary story—vividly and bewitchingly.  We all live among families with special needs children, but we have never read anything as intimate, revealing and celebratory about them  as this page-turner of a  book.”

—Helen Epstein, author of Children of the Holocaust and Getting Through It:  A Year of Cancer During Covid


“The narrator of Cristina Nehring’s The Child Who Never Spoke: 23 ½ Lessons in Fragility is a woman determined to live on her own terms—free to pursue intellectual, creative and erotic adventure, until the unexpected intervenes: an unplanned daughter with exceptional needs. Over the course of twenty-three (and a half) short, heart-punching chapters, Nehring delivers to the reader the delight of getting to know her darling, exuberant daughter, and a serious meditation on what makes life most meaningful.”

—Brian Morton, author of Starting Out in the Evening and Tasha