I'm often wary of books that have some sort of message. I don't mean moral messages, the best books have those layered under everyday circumstances. I mean teaching-- some sort of lesson that you may not know, but darn it you really should.
In this case, the lesson is learning about children with Down syndrome, how they function in the real world, what they have to fight for and against. I recognize the value in including lessons in stories-- heck, I love it when historical facts are written into novels. But part of me rebels against it because I feel that I'm being patronized, if ever so slightly.
This has nothing to do with how entertaining or well-written the novel is. And this one is not lacking in those charms. It pulls you right along-- you care about the characters, the settings, the heartaches and the joys. But that lesson stays on the forefront of your mind and lessens the impact the novel might have. And, to be honest, I am still unsure what moral should be taken from the book, and I suppose that's where it fails.