Wordjazz for Stevie: How a profoundly handicapped girl gave her father the gifts of pain and love


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By Jonathan Chamberlain

by Jonathan Chamberlain

In 1986, Jonathan Chamberlain and his wife Bernadette had their first child, Stevie, a daughter. Stevie was immediately diagnosed with Down’s syndrome. A few months later it became clear that she had a serious heart defect that required a `hole in the heart’ operation. Something went wrong during the operation and Stevie suffered a momentary lack of oxygen that left her severely brain-damaged. For the remaining seven and a half years of her life she was blind, epileptic and unable to sit, let alone walk. She was profoundly handicapped.

Wordjazz for Stevie is the story of Jonathan’s life with Stevie and the deeply beneficial impact she had on his life. It is a story of great love. It is also the story of how this almost overwhelming surge of loving energy led Jonathan to found first the Hong Kong Down Syndrome Association, and then later another charity to take into China the same idea that the key to supporting children like Stevie is to support their parents – and to see the problem as one involving the whole family.

The story that Jonathan tells is made even more poignant by the fact that it deals also with his wife’s unsuccessful battle with cancer. In the end Jonathan is left to bring up his son Patrick as a single father.

This is a short book but intense and deeply moving. “This may be the most moving story you will ever read,” said Britain’s Sunday Telegraph.

Look inside this book
Click on the following link to view sample pages from Wordjazz for Stevie. You will need a pdf reader to view this excerpt.

Pages 7-35


ISBN: 9789881774279 Categories: , Tag:


Wordjazz for Stevie is a letter from the heart, written by Jonathan Chamberlain to his daughter. It is the painful, loving and powerfully written story of a girl who was profoundly disabled and lived for only eight years — yet who changed the world. She inspired her father to found two charities.

Read this book, be moved by it. Let it change your life too.


“This may be the most moving story you will ever read.” — Sunday Telegraph

“If you had to choose just one book that celebrates life in the face of extreme adversity, make it Jonathan Chamberlain’s loving paean to his beloved but departed daughter, Stevie. … What makes this heartfelt account compulsive reading is not only that it sidesteps any mawkishness but that it unfolds in our own backyard Cheung Chau, complete with its richly drawn local characters.” South China Morning Post

In Wordjazz for Stevie, Chamberlain writes with such brutal honesty that readers can’t avoid a sense of intruding on some intensely private family matters. Yet there’s also a mighty gratitude that he shares so much. The lessons he learned, the conclusions he reached, may help others to face their own big challenges. To the best of my knowledge, I’ve never met this author, but reading Wordjazz for Stevie conjures an illusion that I’ve known him for decades. Surely, only a close pal would express so much from deep inside his heart. At times, some readers may need to set aside the book, so powerful are its emotions. But no one should regret reading it – not for a moment. Cairns Media Magazine

Additional information

Dimensions 129 × 198 mm




About the author

Jonathan Chamberlain was brought up in Ireland and Hong Kong. After graduating in Social Anthropology at Sussex University, he returned to Hong Kong where he lived for many years as a teacher and writer. He is now a full time author. His other works include Cancer: The Complete Recovery Guide which is available from www.fightingcancer.com.

In addition to his writing work, Jonathan has founded two charities: The Hong Kong Down Syndrome Association and Mental Handicap Network China.