The road of life brought Suzanne Bobo and her daughter Brittany Tregarthen from Colorado to Kodiak while they met the combined challenges of growing up and Down syndrome, and now they can share the experience with readers.
The mother-daughter writing team launches their joint memoir, “The Road Going,” with a celebration at King’s Diner from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday.
The book chronicles their experiences as Tregarthen, now 23, transitioned through childhood and adolescence to adulthood.
“She and I started journaling about six years ago,” said Bobo, whose biweekly column Scuttlebutt appears in the Kodiak Daily Mirror.
The memoir focuses on what Bobo calls the “launching years,” when a child is figuring out “what they’re going to be when they grow up and how they’re going to grow up.” It includes the successes and frustrations Tregarthen goes through while trying to realize her dreams with limitations from her genetic chromosomal disorder. But Bobo also thinks it has wider meaning.
“We discovered we were telling a very universal story about a mother and a daughter, and more generally about family,” she said, noting everyone encounters problems like chronic illness, relocation, divorce and economic stress. “Those things are universal.”
Bobo spent 10 years as editor of an economics journal in Colorado and served as dean of a liberal arts college. But she has always been a writer, and was proud to discover her daughter shares that bent.
Bobo helped Tregarthen with the writing process, and read back passages for her daughter to edit.
“We kind of adapted her writing process for her,” Bobo said. “She became a pretty good writer that way and developed as a writer.”
Bobo’s husband, Bo Bobo, suggested turning the journals into a book because Suzanne had complained about the lack of books about special needs children’s transition into adulthood.
“There were a lot of resources for me for when Brittany was young,” Bobo said.
The journals covered six years “in fits and starts” as the family transitioned between homes and schools, and then moved to Kodiak in 2007.
“When we family decided we had what we needed, it took six months being chained to the computer five hours a day, six days a week,” Bobo said.
But she also said the words came easily, in a labor of love that stirred up sad, happy and funny feelings.
To bring their book to the public, Bobo started a publishing company, which has some other projects under way. One is a collection of stories and photos by local boat builder Tom Emerson.
“The Road Going” will be sold at The Next Page bookstore and through the website www.theroadgoing.com. Bobo expects to have an ebook version on Amazon soon, and is looking for funding to produce an audio version.