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Book Review: What About the Boy? A Father's Pledge to His Disabled Son

Updated on September 2, 2012
Cari Jean profile image

Cari Jean resides in North Dakota where she works as a freelance writer and blogs at Faith's Mom's Blog.

What About the Boy? is written by Stephen Gallup, the father who made a pledge to his disabled son to help him find wellness no matter what it took. As a baby Stephen's son, Joseph, cried and cried and would lie on the floor turning his head from side to side.

Joseph's parents were convinced that something was wrong but upon taking their baby boy to doctors and specialists, they were told Joseph had a brain injury but that nothing could be done to help him. After taking matters into their own hands, Joseph's parents arose to the challenge of trying to make him well.


A Father's Pledge

In pledging to help his disabled son, Stephen Gallup realized he had to ignore the cautions and criticisms of mainstream doctors. Together with his wife Judy, the Gallups began alternative treatments for their son to help him get well. They worked for hours on end with numerous volunteers to help their immobile son move independently.

Eventually, after about three years, all of their hard work paid off when their brain-injured son gained the ability to walk.Their struggle continued, however, in getting their son to talk.

After exhausting all physical efforts to help their son verbally, they began resorting to spiritual efforts as well. They prayed for their son and even attended large gatherings to hear charismatic Christian speakers, Kenneth and Gloria Copeland and "word of faith" preacher, Kenneth Hagin.

Stephen and his wife, Judy tried to pray the right way, they sought God's word and continued to believe with all of their heart that wellness was their son's birthright.

The book, What About the Boy, is a San Diego Book Award Winner that is both heart-breaking and heart-warming at the same time.

My Personal Review

I very well remember the day when me and my husband were told that our daughter, who had been born eleven weeks early, may have a disability. She was far behind in milestones, growth and overall development. Our pediatrician told us that our best option was to get her into a physical/occupational therapy program as soon as possible.

He also warned us that in searching for information on the Internet, we would come across all sorts of alternative treatments that would do her or us no good. I think at the time, one of the alternative treatments he was talking about was something called "patterning" - the exact treatment the Gallups used to help enable their son to walk.

As I read the book, What About the Boy, I wondered many times what would have happened if we had gotten involved in this type of program. Would Faith, who is now 8 years old, be walking on her own? Stephen is convinced it is his son Joseph's birthright to be well. While I believe it is God's will for Faith to be well too, I often wonder to what lengths must we go in order for that happen or is it just a matter of praying without ceasing for her healing?

This book is definitely a powerful story of a father's love for his child and the desire to do anything and everything to make him well. It is also a book that tells what it really is to be a parent and makes the reader wonder how far would they be willing to go to help their sick or disabled child. But for me, it is a book that stirs up more questions than gives answers. And maybe that is part of the mystery of life - a life that we may not ever fully understand while we are here on this earth.

All throughout the book, I was in awe of the Gallups' fortitude and determination in trying to find answers for their son, especially during a time when the Internet was non-existent. In a desperate search for information, they made countless trips to the library. On the other spectrum, I was quite disgusted by how they were treated by mainstream doctors and the lack of help they found in the medical community.

Overall, I think Stephen Gallup does a fantastic job of voicing his feelings during his struggles not only with this son but with the losses he experienced while helping his son become healthy and whole.

In the end, I found this a very compelling read and now my husband is reading it as well. I highly recommend this book, especially to anyone who wants to understand and who wants to support someone in their life who is affected by disability.

San Diego Book Award Winner

Recently Stephen Gallup author of the book, What About the Boy: A Father's Pledge to His Disabled Son, received the San Diego Book Award for best Published Biography and Memoir.

“I feel humbled by this award for my memoir,” says Stephen Gallup.

Every year the San Diego Book Awards Association (SDBAA) honors the best published books and unpublished manuscripts by authors residing in San Diego County.

What Others Are Saying about WATB

  • "This is the story of an amazing family. Parents who were willing to make great sacrifices for their son, and a son who was strong enough to do what the "experts" said he couldn't do. I highly recommend this book to everyone, especially parents."
  • "The struggles they endured and the lack of information available regarding their son's condition, was not surprising. The book left me feeling sad,angry and happy as well as inspired. It is a story that needed to be told to offer a better understanding of having a special needs child. This is a story that gives us hope. I highly recommend it to everyone"
  • "Through the eyes of Stephen Gallup, I had the pleasure of getting to know this remarkable family in a very personal way. I found myself cheering them on and sharing in their victories and disappointment."
  • "What About the Boy? is a lovely tribute to the power of a parent's love. Steve and Judy literally gave everything to Joseph - because, as their son, he was everything to them. Their story will touch your heart - and sometimes break it - in the manner of all the best stories"
  • "This book is exceptionally inspiring! In reading it, I experienced heartfelt emotions. What an extraordinary journey this family has traveled. Definitely worth reading."


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    • Cari Jean profile imageAUTHOR

      Cari Jean 

      4 years ago from Bismarck, ND

      Audrey - Hi, yes of course I remember you! I have gotten to know the author through connecting over the internet. I am so happy for him that this book is in the works to be made into a movie! My daughter is doing very well. She has benefited greatly from some alternative types of therapy and we continue to pray and seek God's wisdom for her! Blessings to you as well.

    • brakel2 profile image

      Audrey Selig 

      4 years ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

      Hi Cari Jean-I think I lost touch with you on HP and am so glad I found you. The book sounds like a heartbreaker but also a story of courage. It must have helped you relate some of their efforts to your daughter. You read one of my hubs about MVP a long time ago. I hope you and your daughter are doing well. Sharing. Blessings, Audrey

    • MLiz G profile image

      MLiz G 

      5 years ago

      Beautiful and Powerful. Faith is so big and God works in amazing way, you have to believe

    • Cari Jean profile imageAUTHOR

      Cari Jean 

      7 years ago from Bismarck, ND

      DeBorrah - It is so wonderful to hear from you and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your encouraging words. Since writing this hub, we have seen some wonderful progress for Faith and continue to believe that God is at work in her body. We really can't look at all of the "what ifs" and "should haves" we must continue to look forward and keep trusting in HIM!

    • Cari Jean profile imageAUTHOR

      Cari Jean 

      7 years ago from Bismarck, ND

      Hi Steve - I really appreciate your comment. I did go to your blog post and I thought it was right on. I especially like where you said, "I think, as long as we are making a good-faith effort to accomplish what needs to be done, each day opens up before us with renewed promise. And that is at least as important as long-range goals. Perhaps more so."

      Sometimes I just wonder as a mom if I could have done more. I try not to live in the past and instead try to keep moving forward. Like you said, her story is far from over and currently my husband and I are seeing some very good progress and we hope it continues. WE truly believe God has a wonderful plan for her life and we will continue to trust in HIM!

    • Cari Jean profile imageAUTHOR

      Cari Jean 

      7 years ago from Bismarck, ND

      rmcrayne - it is good to hear from you! I do agree that if alternative medicines are proven to help people then by all means it should be covered by insurance. Health insurance supposedly only covers procedures, meds, etc. if they are medically necessary. But it seems some alternative medicine could be more beneficial than popping pills - and in the end cheaper too. But like you say, the pharmaceutical companies have a lot of power.

      I do know of families who have children w/ cp who have gone to other countries for stem cell therapy but they had to raise all the funds themselves. As alternative therapy and holistic healing becomes more popular, it will be interesting to see how the medical community responds.

    • Cari Jean profile imageAUTHOR

      Cari Jean 

      7 years ago from Bismarck, ND

      ohic32 - thanks so much for your comment. I truly feel for your cousin. It is challenging to take care of one family member w/ special needs, I can't imagine taking care of others as well. I pray that God gives her the strength she needs on a daily basis. We simply cannot understand why God allows such things to happen we can only trust Him and have complete faith in him, which is how my husband and I have made it through. Faith continues to amaze us on a daily basis and although we are not looking to alternative treatments we are doing all that we know to do for her, with lots and lots of prayer. If we feel God leading us down the path of alternative medicine, we won't hesitate to do so.

    • DeBorrah K. Ogans profile image

      DeBorrah K Ogans 

      7 years ago

      Cari Jean, Wonderful & Enlightening! In some cases we will never know what might have been if... But we can ALWAYS have HOPE in The LORD and seek HIS WIll & WAY above all else moving forward! Spending time to "BE STILL & KNOW!" helps immensely! We are better able to hear the Lord's voice and see our way... Be Encouraged you have given Faith the right name and surrounded her with the Love of God! May the LORD continue to lead you!

      Thank you for sharing, In HIS Love, Grace, Joy, Peace & Blessings!

    • fatherspledge profile image


      7 years ago from San Diego

      Cari Jean, thank you for the very thoughtful response to my memoir.

      In the interests of continuing the discussion, may I suggest a guest blog post that just went online here?

      Whatever the challenge we're facing, clearly the solution is not attempting something that's beyond our capacity. On the other hand, like a child, (a) we may not know what we're capable of doing until we try, and (b) succeeding imperfectly is nevertheless cause for celebration.

      Like the above commenter, I very much hope you are not feeling regret for past choices regarding your daughter Faith's treatments. Her story is far from over, and there are many much more constructive attitudes to cultivate, one of which of course is pointed to by her name.

    • rmcrayne profile image


      7 years ago from San Antonio Texas

      Cari Jean, I am always interested to read your pediatric- and disability-related hubs. As a pediatric OT, I am familiar with patterning, and the controversy. I guess my rule-of-thumb has been something I read early in my career from The Arthritis Helpbook. It basically said beware of “cures” that are expensive, and that could possibly do harm. So my philosophy has always been, if it’s something reasonably priced, and there is no reason to believe it will hurt you, give it a try if it’s something that intuitively makes sense to you.

      Obviously patterning is a treatment beyond most families’ resources. This is much like ABA (behavior training) for autistic kids. These treatments would quickly deplete most families’ financial and other resources. Please don’t beat yourself up for not making this choice. Maybe this could be YOUR mission and message?

      You are so right about Western Medicine. I chose to abandon Western Medicine when I retired from the Air Force, and had the choice to do so. It stopped making sense to me a long time ago, whereas many Alternative Medicine philosophies seemed intuitive. But I have to pay 100% of my AM care out of pocket. WM presumes if they don’t know what’s wrong, then nothing’s wrong, or if they don’t know (or don’t believe in) other options, then there are no other options. The American Medical Association and Big Pharmaceutical use their power, influence and money to block approval for alternative treatments and therapies. That should be criminal.

    • ohic32 profile image

      Althea Reader 

      7 years ago from Jamaica

      Lovely mind engaging review. I have a cousin whose two girls are sick one with sickle cell and the other sort of crippled on one side due to strokes she suffered at birth. Then the husband ended up almost crippled as well from childhood defects which are just now acting up.

      I just cant imagine how she has been able to cope with all three of them been constantly sick and always having to run with one or the other to the hospital without notice. All three of them now suffer from some crippling dtsease and the doctors have not been able to do much. They especially can not understand what is happening with thee older daughter who is a sickler and whose sickness started to affect during her teenage years. She is now unable to attend school and has to be kept in pampers.

      I would call that God's will. What I would say is that God allows some things to happen to people who are strong enough to look past mainstream doctors and medicine to find answers so that they can in turn impart knowledge to help others in similar positions.

      we figure that that is what is keeping the sick ones here until now. Alternative medicine. Acupuncture for one has been of significant help to them.

      I hope that you will continue to look for help for your child as well. I do believe that if anything, that would have been God's desire you and your daughter just like the Gallups.


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