Shelley Rose’s Protecting the Mentally Challenged Young Adult is her personal story – with fictionalized names – about her mentally handicapped daughter. Though she has reached the age of legal consent, the daughter, called Becky, doesn’t have the mental or emotional capabilities to have a sexual relationship or leave home and falls victim to emotional and sexual exploitation.
The book spans five years during which Becky is manipulated into leaving home and living with a family known as the Clowns after the son, Robert, woos Becky and they begin a romantic relationship. Lynn Clown, Robert’s mother, convinces Becky that her mom was a bad mother and Becky should stop talking to her. Robert impregnates Becky, and Lynn claims to be Becky’s mother to receive Becky’s Social Security payments.
The bulk of the book focuses on Rose’s antagonistic interactions with Lynn Clown and the lawyers Rose hires to fight for guardianship once she realizes that Becky’s age defines her as a consenting adult. Rose’s description of court protocol is informative, but her acerbic anecdotal asides – for example, “The court-appointed attorney (who can’t wait until it’s over), in this case, would not even take the time to speak to the biological mother as he only spoke to whom Becky was living with…” — weaken her critique of the legal system.
Rose’s writing is often circuitous, with repeated explanations that don’t propel the narrative, and characters and events are mentioned before their relevance is explained.
Protecting.the Mentally Challenged Young Adult attempts to illuminate mentally handicapped adults’ vulnerabilities to criminal and psychological exploitation, but Rose’s disorganized prose will prevent readers from focusing on her message.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.