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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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