By the Iowa Sea
Simon & Schuster Inc.
New York, New York
"Life can hypnotize you into thinking that you have no choice. That you're trapped. You have a mortgage. You have a job. You have a wife. You have children, one of whom will never dress himself. Never hold a conversation. Never fall in love. And you will provide. This will be your life. What choice do you have in the matter? Things will always be this way."
Joe Blair is like many normal people. He works hard to earn a living for his family. He has a mortgage, a wife, and four children. He is fairly certain that the oldest three will be successful in life with one day having their own careers and families. His fourth child, Michael, is autistic. Will Michael always need to depend on him for his care? What do people do when they have a handicapped child?
Joe and his wife, Deb have been married for many years and between the daily routines, Joe feels that he has no choices with his life. He feels trapped. Everyday requires him to work and to run errands. What happened to his dreams? Is this a late reaction to "the seven-year itch" or a middle-aged crisis? Joe wants change, happiness, a sense of accomplishment that just isn't happening?
By the Iowa Sea is Joe's memoir of his thoughts, frustrations, and journey through this point in his life. Many people have discussed the differences between men and women at various stages in their lives. This is a beautifully written honest account about life as we age and the struggles of being a parent, especially one with a mentally-challenged son. He expressing his fears, concerns, hopes, and dreams as well as many real-life experiences.
As a female, I found myself reading angrily through the parts where I disagreed with the author's decisions bringing up past conversations that I would have preferred to be forgotten. Joe Blair's raw account of his own crisis which happened a few years ago when much of Iowa flooded, is haunting. This is the male voice that explains why so many marriages fall apart and how one person managed to accept those things that he cannot change.
For those people who occasionally feel trapped in their daily lives or for the dreamer who still wants to enjoy those goals that long ago have been put aside, Joe Blair's By the Iowa Sea is a phenomenally well-written and unquestionably memorable.