That Went Well: Adventures in Caring for My Sister

By Terrell Harris Dougan

Hyperion, 2009          Hardcover, 224 pages          5 of 5 stars

From the day Irene was born, her sister Terrell looked out for her. No one could have loved Irene more, or been more proud of her, except perhaps her parents and doting live-in grandmother.

Irene’s doting family ignored their concerns about her development and pretended she was a typically-developing little girl – until the day she started school. That was in the early 1950’s, when public schools didn’t generally welcome children with differences. Irene’s family was told to keep her at home – and, soon afterward, the medical professionals declared Irene had been brain-damaged at birth.

They directed the family to place Irene in an institution, because, in that day, that was standard procedure for children with intellectual disabilities. Irene’s family, however, cherished her at home. They became proactive in developing community programs and residences for people with intellectual disabilities, but Irene preferred being at home anyway.

Irene was very loved… but raising her was never easy.

That Went Well is the story of Irene’s life, as told by her sister, Terrell.

At the time That Went Well was published, Irene’s parents and grandparents have passed away, and Irene and her sister Terrell are in their sixties. Terrell is the only family member left to care for Irene.

She still loves her sister. And it’s still not easy.

Terrell Dougan speaks openly about the challenges of caring for her sister. I appreciate her honesty about doubting whether she’s doing the right things. I like her openness about what works and what doesn’t… and how it’s sometimes hard to tell those two apart.

Reading this book deepened my understanding of what it’s like to care for an adult sibling with a disability. I welcome it for that reason.

I also found the book just plain fun. As the title suggests, Terrell has a great sense of humour, and she sprinkles it throughout this book. She doesn’t treat serious things too lightly, but she does often see the funny side of the hardest things.

I hope you’ll read That Went Well. Even if you’re not “into” people with disabilities, it may make you laugh. We all need a good chuckle once in awhile.

The book may be purchased from or borrowed from Learn more about the author at

  • Reenie

~ by Laureen Guenther on August 6, 2012.

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