When Sophie Walker’s daughter Grace was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome, her world unravelled. Her high-powered job was in disarray, she couldn’t sleep, often woke in tears and felt hopeless and useless in her role as a mother.
One day she realised she hadn’t done any exercise for months – neglecting her physical health as well as her mental wellbeing. Previously a keen runner, she set herself the challenge of running the London Marathon to raise awareness of Asperger Syndrome and make herself physically strong enough to support her daughter.
A blog now transformed into a book, Grace Under Pressure is a moving story that charts the highs and lows of raising a child with Asperger Syndrome and the physical challenge of training for a long-distance running event.
‘Grace Under Pressure‘ was ordered in advance by me from the library. I think I first read about Sophie and Grace in a magazine article (god knows where) and I knew then that I had to get hold of the book. Luckily, my library had a copy on order so I put my name down straight away.
And I don’t regret it! I read a lot of mummy memoirs (trying to sedate my broody side!) but the way Sophie talks about her relationship with Grace just pulls on my heart strings. She describes the frustration she sometimes experiences with Grace, and how she differs from her younger daughter.
The thing that overpowers the book is the strength yet vulnerability exhibited by Sophie. As humans we tend to like to moan about the bad points of life, but Grace helps to put everything in perspective; every day she has a struggle to fit in, to understand homework instructions, to make friends. Things we do not consider, but are pivotal moments in Grace’s life.
As a result of the struggles Sophie has to get the things Grace needs, such as educational funding, she starts to run. Through running we experience the struggles Sophie feels. When you feel like staying in bed all day and forgetting the world, but you should really be running.
There are some truly magical moments in this book. When Sophie is in tears about a new spat of bullying or hardship Grace faces, and Grace turns to her and says that everything will be okay. I’m not usually one to cry and books, but the ending made me overwhelmed with emotion.
This is the kind of book that makes you sit back and realise how easy our lives really are, and what we take for granted. Inspiring does not begin to cover it. Many thanks go to Sophie Walker for writing Grace’s story, and for the magazine article that made me discover this wonderful relationship they have.