A Life With Riley

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Nikki Zimmerman’s life was a dream. A beautiful home, a successful husband, good friends, a precocious three-year-old son—and at last, a new baby girl, Riley. But all that changed with a diagnosis that is every mother’s nightmare: Riley would not reach her first birthday.


Yet somehow, Riley lived. For a year, and then another, and then a decade. Despite a host of physical problems and developmental difficulties, Riley’s early death sentence became just one of many misdiagnoses, the list of which went on and on. 

A Life With Riley is simultaneously heart-warming and heart-rending. It follows the twists and turns of a medical mystery, while showing how the power of maternal instinct can turn a young, inexperienced mother into a ferocious warrior—a woman who bucks the educational system, fights her way through a medical quagmire, overcomes her prejudice against alternative medicine, psychics, and astrologers, and learns to let go of the importance of being “normal.” 

Brutally honest and emotionally revealing, A Life With Riley lets you walk in Nikki’s footsteps, from the nation’s most prestigious hospitals to rural India to a world-famous mystic in Brazil. A Life with Riley will help you see the world through a different lens, and change the way you think about how society cares—or fails to care—for the most vulnerable among us.

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Kleefstra Syndrome

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 27 reviews
Outside the Box

I felt like I was experiencing the joys, success, passion, frustrations and challenges of your journey and career of fighting for Riley's well being and happiness. The more I deal with the medical community the less answers they seem to have for anything "outside the box." The various labels don't help find solutions or acceptable alternatives.

by Harvey on A Life With Riley
Love Has No Limits

A Life with Riley is a heart wrenching yet heart warming true story about the love that the author, Nikki, and her family demonstrated to their daughter, Riley, who was born with disabilities that seemed impossible for the medical professions, both traditional and alternative, to understand and treat.Often I found myself in tears while reading about Riley's physical, mental and emotional obstacles life presented her. At the same time my admiration for Nikki grew each time she and Eric explored a new option to help Riley. They traveled worldwide attempting to give Riley some relief from the pain she suffered daily.I read the book slowly because I wanted to appreciate, and let sink into my personal psyche, as much as possible what it is to love and support another human being the way Nikki and Eric loved Riley. It would have been easy for them to give up their struggles with the medical establishment as they sought help, but Nikki's determination to help her daughter wouldn't allow her and Eric to quit.I highly recommend A Life with Riley for anyone struggling in caring for a child or adult who has special needs and requires a shot of enthusiasm and a boost in courage to continue with their struggle. Nikki shares deeply, passionately, painfully and at times joyously what a gift it was to be the mother of Riley, while doing as much as she was able to do to give her daughter as good a life as possible. I feel she succeeded and I'm sure Riley felt the same.

Find the Cause and Fix It

Nikki Zimmerman took me through the trials and hopes of humanity - find the cause and fix it........ find the cause and fix it. And when all the stones have been turned over, and there is still no cause, how am I expected to fix it? "A Life With Riley" is not just about living with a child with disabilities, it also applies to "one's life situations. Be it sickness, death, health, religion, ugly/pretty, finances, hope and despair. "A Life With Riley" comforts me in knowing I'm not alone to the "why me?" questions we all ask ourselves.

by Angie on A Life With Riley
Compelling Story!

I read the sample chapter of this book on the author's website and then just had to get the book to read more. What a compelling story! I've always figured that a good memoir should make me laugh and cry -- and this one did both. The author is a gifted storyteller with vivid descriptions of her life as the mother of a disabled child. You can easily feel her love for her child and also her frustration with the health care and education systems that let her down time and again. This book is so multifaceted.

Part parenting memoir, part medical thriller

It's a cliche when you're talking about a book, but I literally couldn't put this down. Well, eventually, of course. But not for a while.As a dad of a young kid, reading about this person's experiences as a mother (of a newborn and an older son) was strange and kind of scary at first, but then ultimately inspiring and even pretty funny at times. Every parent goes through medical scares, but this mother was told her newborn daughter would die... then that she had one debilitating disease, then another, and the diganoses just kept changing--for years and years.You can definitely identify with her when she finally, basically, starts taking the law into her own hands and rejects the endless parade of incorrect experts. (Spoiler alert: there is finally some resolution on the whole medical mystery at the end.) The entire book has this voyeuristic thrill already (she really lets you inside her head, to hear all the good and bad thoughts, raw and unedited), but that worked especially well in those situations where she was fighting for her daughter's life. As a parent, it really makes you wonder what you would do, and if you would have the same determination. Definitely recommended.

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