Delaware resident John Holt has published his first novel — “Danny’s World: From Handicapped to Hero” — at the age of 73.
The novel tells the story of “Danny, an amazing handicapped boy who won the fight to overcome the stigma of being a disabled or handicapped child following the Great Depression,” according to the book’s summary.
Holt said he was inspired to write the novel because of his grandson, Toby Holt, who was born with spina bifida. Holt said she has been amazed by Toby’s strength when facing the many surgeries that he has had to undergo in his nine years.
Holt, who grew up in Texas, recalled: “When I was a kid, children who were born ‘different,’ as we shall say, were regarded with embarrassment, with shame.
“Superstition had a grip on a lot of people. Some people were actually told the reason why your child was born this way is because God is punishing you.”
He said that people were able to justify such beliefs because “if you’re predisposed to superstition, you can make some things mean what they do not mean.”
The novel shows “what it took to finally break that superstition, to turn on the light,” he said.
What it comes down to, according to Holt, is that “someone somewhere has to have the guts, the intestinal fortitude, to stand up and say ‘no.’”
Carrie Holt, the author’s daughter-in-law and Toby’s mother, said that when she read the novel, “I cried. … I thought it was really moving.”
“I think [Holt] did a nice job of just showing how when you experience or have more interaction with people who are different from you, especially people who have special needs, how that can change your perspective and outlook on life,” she said.
Parts of the novel can be hard to read, she said, but, in the end, readers will be “encouraged that there are good people in the world.”
She said the novel shows “how far we’ve come” in terms of the treatment of the disabled, but that it also reminded her that “we still have a way to go.”
The novel can be purchased at amazon.com.
Megan Neary can be reached at [email protected]