Rex’s life was marked by one tragic diagnosis after another: blind, autistic, a spectrum of other neurological/developmental problems. Left to raise her severely-disabled son after her husband left the family when Rex was still a baby, Cathleen Lewis became a ferocious advocate for her son. Her intense and complete commitment to caring for him allowed her to read the nuances of his limited communication. Her dedication and focus helped her discover a nearly-hidden entry ramp onto the single pathway into Rex’s interior life.
It turns out, this pathway was a two-way street: the piano. Rex, it turns out, is a savant, a pure musical genius. Though he can’t communicate in the give-and-take of a normal conversation, though he lives in darkness, he can play anything from Beethoven to the Beatles, simply by hearing it.
The rarity of savants, and the complete dissonance between disability and genius in the same body makes their stories fascinating to the rest of us. (Think Rain Man.) And though Cathleen Lewis’ simply titled Rex is a fascinating description of the discovery and nurture of all that her son is, the 242-page hardcover is even more, the story of a mama pit bull. Though at times, the story gets a bit bogged down in the minutae of her battles with doctors, medical professionals, society, Rex, God and herself, this story would be of particular encouragement to parents of special-needs kids as well as the professionals who serve these families.
Note: My copy of the book is a review copy from the publisher.