UNWANTED By Linda Smith Book Reviews

Smith’s debut memoir, “Unwanted” chronicles her life as the survivor of childhood abuse and mother of a disabled child who became a fundraising icon and relentless advocate for people with disabilities. Since debuting in March, 2019, “Unwanted” has won the hearts of readers and critics alike, earning five-star reviews and industry awards for its inspirational story.

Blueinkreview.com Review

(Originally published here)

Unwanted: How a mother learned to turn shame, grief and fear into purpose, passion and empowerment

Linda Smith
Publisher: Linda Smith Pages: 289
Price: (paperback) $14.99
ISBN: 9780999227602
Reviewed: May, 2019

Linda Smith, champion philanthropist and fundraiser for Nevada’s largest organization for people with disabilities, Opportunity Village, describes her impressive life story in this captivating memoir.

Overcoming an abusive childhood with a violent, alcoholic father to become a Las Vegas performer and glamorous model as the face of Diet Pepsi, Smith’s world drastically shifts with the early birth (nearly inside a plane headed to Toronto) of Christopher, a child with Down syndrome. Doctors tell Smith and her husband, musician Glenn Smith, that Christopher wasn’t expected to survive. “This is a blessing,” they add. “You should forget about him and concentrate on having another baby.” Instead, with indefatigable drive, Linda and Glenn face the challenges of raising Christopher, and Linda begins advocating for disabled rights.

Described as her “magical boy, his extra chromosome bringing love,” Christopher, (verbally limited and autistic) is a joy, but discrimination abounds: Schools and families aren’t accepting. Foreign-born with a “retarded” status, he’s unable to become a legal permanent US resident. Linda engages a powerful lobby (with Hubert Humphrey and others) to change outdated immigration laws, gaining citizenship for Christopher and others like him.

Capitalizing on her Las Vegas connections (Glenn performed with Wayne Newton), Smith begins to create impressive fundraising events. Dauntless, she approaches famous hotel owners, corporations, sports teams, and philanthropists and gathers a line-up of Vegas stars, including Elvis Presley, Barbra Streisand, and Celine Dion to produce “The Concert of Love.” This event, along with numerous galas, have raised millions for “disability freedom” and garnered her awards as a champion of the disabled.

Smith’s well-written, moving, and energetic description of the social injustices, lack of understanding, and physical and emotional demands of raising Christopher are eye-opening, offering a realistic portrait of the world of the disabled in the ‘70s and beyond. Her tenacity is infectious. People seeking to learn more about self-advocacy, nonprofits, and fundraising—or simply share in Christopher’s stirring story— will find inspiration in this powerful book.

Also available in hardcover and ebook.

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  1. Sharron Grodzinsky

    Linda’s journey with her beloved son, Christopher, is the amazing story of their journey from being unwanted in so many ways to becoming a shining light, not just for themselves but a beacon of hope for millions of others.

    Presented as a very young mother with what some called a child who had no value, Linda turned that perception around to show the world all people have value. Christopher led the way for her with grace, joy and dignity few ever achieve.

    ItÕs the story not just of one family but a community of people with Linda and Christopher leading the charge to change the face of people with disabilities and raise not only millions of dollars, but awareness of the good in everyone.

    You may shed tears and laugh as you read her story, but you wonÕt forget what one woman, who found her life mission through the love of her son, accomplished accompanied by an army of friends and family.

    UNWANTED (Ebook)UNWANTED (Ebook)

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  2. Briana

    Linda’s book had me hooked from the beginning. This amazing story of her perseverance in overcoming the trials and tribulations she experienced throughout her life is a great read for everyone wanting to learn more about the obstacles Linda faced while advocating for her son, Christopher, and others with Down syndrome.

    UNWANTED (Hardback)UNWANTED (Hardback)

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  3. Hayleigh

    I enjoyed reading Linda’s book. She is an amazing person and an amazing storyteller. I highly recommend this book, I could not put it down!

    UNWANTED (Hardback)UNWANTED (Hardback)

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  4. Sean P Guthrie (From Amazon.com)

    Linda’s story is one of fear, confusion, frustration, but ultimately an unstoppable will to better the life of her son and people like him. This book goes through the lowest of lows and the highest of highs; from facing unimaginable family dysfunctions, to being one of the most inspirational leaders in the disabilities field. She was wronged and rebuffed so many times, but always stood back up and showed the world who it was messing with. Linda’s influence on the disabled population around Nelson County, Nevada can not be understated. I lived in the area for a number of years, and personally heard her message of love and understanding for this most deserving population, and soon after, with the help of Opportunity Village, I saw the amazing results as more and more developmentally disabled people became accepted and ingrained in the Las Vegas culture. If you are looking for a dramatic page-turner with valuable life lessons throughout, this is the novel for you!

    UNWANTED (Hardback)UNWANTED (Hardback)

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  5. Mallory Zito

    This is an amazing story of a mother’s journey and how she persevered through obstacles, while advocating for her son with Down syndrome. She courageously faced the difficulties that life presented and came out on the other side as a fundraising icon who has made a profound impact for people with disabilities and their families. It’s an inspiring story showcasing what love, passion and determination can do.

    UNWANTED (Hardback)UNWANTED (Hardback)

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  6. Gina Yager

    This inspirational story will have you flipping the pages, unable to put it down!! Linda’s memoir is a powerful journey of self-discovery, triumph and love, unforgettable moments and heartfelt courage. I normally read fiction, but this true story is so much better than make-believe – it would be impossible to invent such an amazing story of perseverance!

    UNWANTED (Hardback)UNWANTED (Hardback)

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  7. Irene J. (From Amazon.com)

    I am a Book Blogger and Linda’s PR Manager approached me to read and review this book.

    I don’t even know where to begin and end with this review, I guess I will start out by saying that there should be a 10 star option, and this book would certainly get it.

    Linda Smith grew up impoverished, neglected and abused, but knew a great destiny awaited. She had no idea her life would take the turns it would, or deliver her from fear and guilt to triumph and unconditional love.

    I don’t believe in rehashing all of the details of a book, but your mouth will hang open in awe from page 1 until you close the last page.
    I guess the thing that struck me the most was the raw truth that she told thru-out the book. I can’t imagine what it took to admit her many emotional errors as a newborn mother. She lays it out there for the world to judge her.
    This book certainly tells you what it was like ‘back in the day’ for parents of a child with learning difficulties. I was around during that time, worked with children who dealt with learning difficulties, so I can attest to the truth she is telling. The shocking part was the illegal immigrant status part of this book. It certainly brings into light what is going on in today’s news.

    If you are looking for a book that tells you the truth like no other, the craziness of our laws and the crazy beliefs that normal people hold about people with intellectual disabilities. This is the bare all story of one lady’s rough journey thru a multi-tiered nightmare with a definite not taking NO as an answer, than this book is for you.
    The book takes place mostly in Las Vegas, Nevada. Linda gives the inside view of many famous people that all of us will recognize. We hear so much negative stories about the rich and famous, this did my heart good to know that probably 3/4 of what we hear are pretty much lies.

    UNWANTED (Hardback)UNWANTED (Hardback)

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  8. Joanne Popowick (verified owner)

    I have to say “I cried, laugh, smiled and was lost “in Linda’s story How it all began for her was so sad,To read how she had Chris was so shocking that a Doctor would tell Parents “he won’t live ” was just heart breaking but Chris fooled them and surpassed what Doctors said, Chris always Touched my heart but he touched my heart more, when I read about him saving a child in teh pool, or his few words he could say and how Linda became what she is today ‘A strong woman who wouldn’t take No for an answer” to read about how the Concert of Love was started to reading about the early years to now, This book was so worth me buying and I hope Linda writes more. I have been to opportunity village many time to the Forrest and to show support and I must say what Linda did for this place to help Disabled young men and women is so special .
    Thank You Linda for a wonderful bookk

    UNWANTED (Hardback)UNWANTED (Hardback)

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  9. Michelle Farino

    Linda is truly an amazing woman and philanthropist. Her story is nothing less than amazing as well! I enjoyed every minute of this beautiful story and reading about the journey of Linda and Christopher.

    UNWANTED (Hardback)UNWANTED (Hardback)

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  10. TODD A FARINO

    I loved the book. Linda’s story struck right into my home here in Las Vegas. I’ve scene the work she has done in our city with Opportunity Village, but to get the full story was just incredible. A must read!

    UNWANTED (Paperback)UNWANTED (Paperback)

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