Book Review: 'A Different Life' by Quinn Bradlee

Sunday, April 19, 2009

A Different Life

Growing Up Learning Disabled and Other Adventures

By Quinn Bradlee with Jeff Himmelman

PublicAffairs. 220 pp. $24.95

Memoirs of a childhood in the shadow of famous parents are legion, but most center on some conflict. Quinn Bradlee, son of former Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee and writer Sally Quinn, instead tells a story in which his parents are tough, loving and supportive.

They needed to be. From open-heart surgery in infancy to a litany of health and developmental problems, Bradlee's childhood combined privilege with serious challenges. At 14 he and his parents finally got a diagnosis explaining everything from the hole in his heart to his difficulties with speech, memory and social interactions: cardio-velo-facial syndrome, a genetic condition affecting one in 2,000.

Bradlee's book brings a bracing honesty to the tough stuff he's faced, and a sweet enthusiasm toward the things that make him happy, from surfing to his childhood dog. He doesn't sugarcoat how difficult difference can be, but there's no pity here, and no complaint.

-- Kate Tuttle

© 2009 The Washington Post Company