Finding Ninee » Sharing our parenting and special needs stories with heart and humor.

“Loving Lindsey” by Linda Atwell – A Personal Author Interview and Book Review (OOH and a giveaway!)

Loving Lindsey by Linda Atwell a personal author interview and book review
I spoke with a mama last night. She’s spent the past seven years, off and on, writing a book.

A really great book.

“Loving Lindsey” by Linda Atwell – A Personal Author Interview and Book Review (OOH and a giveaway!)

First though…some thoughts.

Each mama knows that newborn babies who become children (and suddenly teens and adults) are patient with us as we learn who they are; who they’ve always been.

Sometimes, they give us time to realize they’re not talking but should be. They wait for us to adjust our plans and perceptions while we teach ourselves who we are, too.

“I’m always here for you,” we whisper into the curl of their sweet, tiny ears.

“I love you no matter what,” we say.

Meaning it always and forever as we adjust expectations understanding the child we love more than anything else is often different from the one we’d dreamed.

We take our time, realize the one we have is the one for us.

Unique challenges and special needs are simply part of their recipe.

It can take a while though, especially when our children seem typical in the earliest of their breaths and years.

I spoke with a mama last night. As a child, she dreamed of Disneyland.

With four kids, going to Disney wasn’t something a family just picked up and did.

But this girl persisted, and at 13, won a local hula hoop contest using four prescribed moves and one of her own invention – twirling it on her foot.

Although the prize was two plane tickets, her dad negotiated, got the money instead, and drove the whole family to Disney.

Her two sisters carried on the tradition, and a young girl’s unaffordable dream turned into a Disney trip for a family of six, three years in a row.

Just like that, the mama I spoke to last night learned that if she practiced, worked hard, and believed, dreams of Disney could come true.


Blank screens wait for us to type our stories.

The screen refrains from groaning while we hit delete and then undo delete, and delete again.

The screen only laughs a little bit when we type “eiodjfkdjvojeiofhjnefnjkkj” because sometimes, that’s what writing feels like.


Last night, when I spoke with Linda Atwell, author of Loving Lindsey, I wished she lived next door. I had just a few questions.

We spoke for two hours.

We agreed that Loving Lindsey is a book about mothers and daughters and all mamas and children and love and challenge and love all over again.

We talked about how the fact that Linda’s daughter Lindsey has special needs is but one of the ingredients in her girl, and in their history and future.

We talked about special needs in general, and how “All kids do that!” is probably the most insulting and annoying thing a person can say to a special needs mama.

We compared stories about how in our cases, our children seemed typical, until they didn’t. How that’s both alike and different from families who know at birth that they’ve been reading the wrong parenting books.

We giggled at the fact that we “met” years ago, when I found her blog and gave her a Liebster Award. About how important those awards were, once upon a blogger’s time (they were a seriously big deal) (also, now, they’re dead). 

And now, I get to the point. 

“Loving Lindsey” by Linda Atwell – A Personal Author Interview and Book Review (OOH and a giveaway!)


About Loving Lindsey by Linda Atwell

Linda Atwell and her strong-willed daughter, Lindsey—a high-functioning young adult with intellectual disabilities—have had a complicated relationship.

When Lindsey graduates from high school at 19 and gets a job at Goodwill, she moves into a cottage in her parents’ backyard. Linda believes their difficult times are finally behind them.

Life proves to be not so simple. As Lindsey plunges into adulthood, she experiments with sex, considers a tubal ligation, and at 20, quits Goodwill and runs away with Emmett, a man more than twice her age.

As Lindsey grows closer to Emmett, she slips further away from her family—but Linda, determined to save her daughter, refuses to give up. Loving Lindsey is a touching memoir with unexpected moments of joy and humor.

It’s a story about independence, rescue, resilience, and, most of all, love. It’s one that every human will relate to.

My Q&A with Linda Atwell, author of Loving Lindsey

Q: What part of your story did you leave out of Loving Lindsey?

A:  Our story is ongoing. Loving Lindsey takes place between Lindsey’s 19th and 30th birthdays. Although I don’t feel much was left out, some significant things have happened since the “end” of this chapter of our lives.

Loving Lindsey Book Review Lindsey as a Bride

For instance, Lindsey eventually married Gabe.

In many ways it was a dream come true for me. I’d thought my daughter might never be a bride. But there she was – a beautiful one, walking down the aisle on her father’s arm.

It was a magical day. Unfortunately, that relationship didn’t work for a number of reasons; mainly because Gabe became very ill.

They were two people with special needs who each needed a lot of attention and couldn’t cope with all those medical issues.

They eventually parted.

Lindsey is living independently again, and right now, she’s doing well.

Q: As is life, your story with your sweet, defiant girl is unfinished. Do you see a sequel in your future?

A: Well, Lindsey continuously gives me new material, so who knows.

In reality, I have a prequel pretty much written, i.e. the early years of her life. The working title is “Expecting Perfect,” and spans the years from birth to graduating high school. There are quite a few good books on the market about parents who get a different child than what they expected.

The publisher thought Loving Lindsey was the more marketable between the two because it covers the child with special need’s transition into adulthood—and there aren’t many titles on that subject in the market.

Loving Lindsey does have many flashbacks to her childhood included…yet, my heart wants to tell the early story too, so we’ll see.  

book review on Loving Lindsey in the early years

Q: How did Lindsey react when she read your memoir? Were there parts that she insisted be left out?

A: Lindsey acted like she was reading, but she didn’t really read the entire thing – only a few pages here and there.

I tried reading chapters to her so there wouldn’t be any surprises, but she told me, “Mom, your reading voice just makes me want to go to sleep.” I’m not sure if that means I have a soothing voice or the story is boring to her. After all, she lived it.

She says she doesn’t need to re-live it anymore.

Out of respect for Lindsey, I told this from my point of view. I didn’t go into detail on intimate things between her and her men. I don’t feel that would be right. If she wants to tell such stories, that’s up to her.

I’m sharing only what I personally saw or things Lindsey said to me that I feel are appropriate.

Loving Lindsey is a very honest account of this time in our lives. I’m sure there are things in the book that Lindsey wishes never happened, because there are things I certainly wished never happened.

But like Lindsey asked me once, “Mom, are you going to tell the good, the bad, and the ugly?”

I told her yes, I’d do just that.

“Well, I am pretty funny. As long as you tell the truth, it is okay by me.”

*** Last night, when speaking with Linda, she mentioned a reporter had asked her why she’d shared such personal and vulnerable moments in her story.

She said that when there are secrets, it’s like there’s this thing hanging over you. Secrets are always worse in people’s minds.

“When it’s out, it’s out along with your perspective.”***

Q: What’s the number one thing that you hope that parents will get out of reading your book?

A: What I wanted more than anything (just like the mother of a typical kid), was for my girl—despite her intellectual disabilities—to live an independent life, to have purpose, and to find love.

Fortunately, Lindsey wanted those things for herself. In fact, she demanded them. But with such goals, there are also challenges.

Our story includes moments of love and pride, as well as times our family struggled. It shares the successes people with special needs can achieve when offered parental, educational, and community support. Although the challenges for independent living vary, kids with special needs often have more abilities than we might initially think.

Our daughter continues to surprise us. That’s the story I really wanted to tell.

Lindsey and her Brother Michael

Q (from the official press release which you can download here): You mention details of Lindsey’s special needs throughout the book. How was she diagnosed, and what would you recommend to parents whose child receives a similar diagnosis?

A (paraphrased): A year or two after her grand mall seizure, a neurologist diagnosed her essential tremors.

When they got worse and we began to notice other things, such as not playing well with others, fine motor skill issues, her inability to concentrate on schoolwork and to retain information, I insisted she be evaluated by doctors at Oregon Health Science University (OHSU).

In 1985, Lindsey was selected for a nine-month study. Doctors concluded Lindsey was mildly mentally retarded from an unidentifiable syndrome. They said she had a short in her neurological system and would never process information the same as her peers.

The word “retarded” hurt my heart. It felt like someone hit me with a stun gun.

I couldn’t believe my typical-looking daughter could have such a diagnosis, and for years, I didn’t believe it.

I thought if my husband and I worked with Lindsey long enough, she would outgrow this label. But that didn’t happen.

Fortunately, “retarded” has been phased out. Today, Lindsey would likely be identified as intellectually or developmentally disabled. Despite her diagnosis, we didn’t treat Lindsey any differently. We didn’t make excuses (for the most part) for her disabilities. We expected a lot of the same things from her as we did our typical son.

For someone who receives a similar diagnosis, I would recommend that they take the time to mourn the loss of the child they thought they were getting. It hurts. But it will get better. Seek counseling if needed. I’m so glad I went that route.

In the end, she’s still your child and you’ll love the heck out of her.

Do what you need to do. Learn to accept your child may have limitations. Ask yourself, am I doing this for my child, or for my ego? Yet, encourage her to do what she can; be your child’s advocate. No one will do that job better than you.


I really loved reading Loving Lindsey by Linda Atwell, and so hope that her book tour brings her from Oregon to DC, so that I can hug and laugh with her in person.

Guess what? Remember how I said that this is…

“Loving Lindsey” by Linda Atwell – A Personal Author Interview and Book Review (OOH and a giveaway!)

Well… You can buy the book now (it comes out on Tuesday, September 26) using this handy link here (and if you do so, it’s an affiliate link so I’ll get a few cents towards a cup of coffee, and better, Linda will think I’m like cool and stuff so will maybe let me play a teacher or something in the movie this book will become):

You can also get it from a local bookstore or on Kindle:


Or, better even yet, WIN AN AUTOGRAPHED* COPY of Loving Lindsey right here!

Simply comment, and Tucker will draw YOUR (maybe but better chances than the lottery) name from a hat and boom! You win!

*The book will only be an autographed copy if you reside in the US but even if you don’t, it’s a huge win. I promise. 

Here’s a little bit more about the author: Linda Atwell lives in Silverton, Oregon with her husband, John. They have two incredible adult children. Linda earned her BA from George Fox College, but it is her entrepreneurial and adventuresome spirits that have inspired her career goals. She owned a successful home décor business for ten years before switching to adjusting catastrophe insurance claims and climbing roofs for a living. Now she writes. Her award-winning work has appeared in print and online magazines. She irregularly writes a blog about her daughter with special Atwell is happiest traveling the world, and hopes to get fifty stamps in her passport before it expires.

Linda Atwell’s blog: Out One Ear
Her Twitter
And, her Facebook

This has been a (long but totally worth it, right?) Finish the Sentence Friday post. This week’s sentence is “Reading makes me…”

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  • JT Walters - No matter how hard our journey is, Mom’s of special needs children are never alone.September 22, 2017 – 12:01 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - The internet and blogging for sure has brought so many wonderful people together that might never have otherwise met for sure.September 22, 2017 – 6:03 pmReplyCancel

    • Linda Atwell - You are so right. We are never alone. Especially since the internet came into play. Very wise words.September 23, 2017 – 11:50 pmReplyCancel

  • Denise Smarcz - I’ve been anxiously waiting for Linda’s book to be released since I first heard about it on her Facebook post. Thankfully, I will soon be able to read the book. Wishing Linda a HUGE SUCCESS on Loving Lindsey!September 22, 2017 – 12:47 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Wishing her the same! And just by commenting, you’re entered into the signed book give-away! Thanks so much 🙂September 22, 2017 – 10:36 pmReplyCancel

    • Linda Atwell - Thanks, Denise, for the good wishes. It’s fun to dream big, but we’re trying to be realistic. If our story helps a few families (and they get a few chuckles out of it along the way), we’ll feel our job is done. Lindsey was willing to share because she didn’t want some of the things that happened to her to happen to another young person. Hopefully, Tucker will pick your name! (I can’t lie, I really wish he could pick every single person here!) Thanks again.September 23, 2017 – 11:54 pmReplyCancel

  • Allison G smith - Fantastic interview! I’m so intrigued and can’t wait to read Linda’s book. Thanks Kristi. XOXOSeptember 22, 2017 – 7:27 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Thanks, Allie! I was thinking that if you’re up to it, that she’d be a great one to do an author interview with. I almost asked her what her favorite book as a kid was but then was like “NO THAT BELONGS TO ALLIE!” xoSeptember 22, 2017 – 10:37 pmReplyCancel

    • Linda Atwell - Allie, I believed I interviewed you (almost two years ago) when I did a book review for Mothering Through the Darkness. I feel honored that you would put my book on your list. Maybe Tucker will pick your name????!!!September 24, 2017 – 12:03 amReplyCancel

  • Emily - Sounds like an amazing story and memoir — will definitely add it to my list! And wow, the Liebster Award — I remember those days! You’re right – it was a big deal!September 22, 2017 – 10:06 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - OMG the Liebster Award. I was obsessed with where it came from and what it meant. It really was a huge big deal back then! I miss blogging being like that.September 22, 2017 – 10:38 pmReplyCancel

    • Linda Atwell - You remember the Liebster Award, too? That means we all go way, way, way back. I was so honored when Kristi presented it to me. I took it very seriously when I gave it to another mom blogger. And, as far as Loving Lindsey, our story certainly wasn’t a merry-go-round ride, although both my husband and myself prefer those to rollercoasters. Anyway, Emily, if you like books that generate a lot of emotion, I think you will enjoy this read. It’s been getting lovely reviews, and I’m pretty darn stoked about that. 🙂September 24, 2017 – 12:09 amReplyCancel

  • Lisa @ The Meaning of Me - Oh, this is lovely! I’ve read Linda’s blog occasionally over the years since I landed here in blog land. Book sounds just wonderful! Congratulations to Linda and thanks, Kristi, for sharing her book with us. xoSeptember 22, 2017 – 11:12 amReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Thanks, Lisa! The book really is wonderful. You’ll enjoy it and both of us get tips for those “later years” which I’ve kinda mentally dismissed at times, until I can’t because once, I was unable to imagine being the mom to an 8 year old and here we are…September 22, 2017 – 10:40 pmReplyCancel

    • Linda Atwell - Lisa–I too am grateful Kristi was willing to share. She actually read an earlier version and then the finished copy. Poor girl! But I’m thrilled she liked it enough to share it with all of you. Hopefully, it will help other parents prevent some of the challenges we had to face when Lindsey transitioned into adulthood. If it saves one person…well, it will be worth it.September 24, 2017 – 12:12 amReplyCancel

  • Audrina - This is the best book review I have read because you took the time to tell stories of yours and the author. It made it much better and you must have loved the book and be a great writer to do it this way.September 22, 2017 – 10:44 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Thank you! I tried to do the book justice with some other stories. I really appreciate you noticing that! And yes, I did love the book, and hope you do as well if you get the chance to read it!September 23, 2017 – 11:40 pmReplyCancel

  • Linda Atwell - That would be so much fun! Maybe it will work out. Thanks for another shout out, Kristi. You are an incredible cheerleader!September 24, 2017 – 12:04 amReplyCancel

  • Linda Atwell - Audrina–I so agree with you! Kristi weaves stories together and before you know it your entrenched in the tale. I almost forgot she was talking about my book—that’s how good of a job she does. I hope you get a chance to read Loving Lindsey. My daughter–as challenging as she is at times, is hilariously funny at other times (without meaning to be) which makes her even more humorous. Have a great weekend.September 24, 2017 – 12:17 amReplyCancel

  • Jennifer P. - Good lord you did it again. How you make a book review something to read online is so great. Thanks and now I want to read this book!September 24, 2017 – 10:49 pmReplyCancel

    • Kristi Campbell - Oh you’re too kind. I’m so glad you want to read the book. Every human should read it! xoxoSeptember 25, 2017 – 12:09 amReplyCancel

    • Linda Atwell - Jennifer P–I’m so tickled you want to read. I hope you enjoy as much as I enjoyed your comment. And I agree with you–Kristi makes everything sound so awesome. I’m honored she was willing to share our story with all of you. Good luck in the drawing!September 25, 2017 – 12:28 amReplyCancel

  • Jennifer P. - Right? This line though is what I meant.
    Blank screens wait for us to type our stories.

    The screen refrains from groaning while we hit delete and then undo delete, and delete again.

    The screen only laughs a little bit when we type “eiodjfkdjvojeiofhjnefnjkkj” because sometimes, that’s what writing feels like.

    It gives me hope to keep writing!September 25, 2017 – 12:13 amReplyCancel

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