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Why you must read Lauren Leigh’s Retarded Girl Raised in Dog Pen


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Baby is every adoptive parent’s nightmare—blind, paralyzed from the waist down, unable to speak, and diagnosed with developmental and intellectual disabilities. For the first 10 years of her life she is raised outside in a dog pen by a cruel adoptive father, a Mississippi deputy sheriff who values his bird dogs more than his daughter.

Retarded Girl Raised in Dog Pen is the story of Baby’s placement in a Mississippi mental institution for individuals with profound retardation after the brutal murder of her father and the arrest of her mother, and her desperate attempt to escape the institution.

Once the mother is convicted of murder and sentenced to death, the story takes a bizarre twist as mental health professionals discover that Baby is capable of communication, despite being trapped inside a grotesque body that holds her prisoner.

How much does Baby know? Can she prove her mother’s innocence?

We’ve got a million questions. Tell us more.
As the mother sits on death row, the clock ticking, a brilliant psychologist has the shock of her life when she discovers that Baby is not who she seems. The question is will the psychologist be able to solve the mystery in time to save the mother’s life?

What genre is this?

Similar to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest in the manner in which it reveals the inner workings of a mental institution, it is, in the end, about the triumph of intellect and passion over indifference and cruelty. It is written in the tradition of The Sound and the Fury and To Kill a Mockingbird, two novels that address the complex issue of intellectual disabilities.

We’re curious about Baby.
Baby is a 10-year-old girl who was born without eyeballs and subsequently diagnosed with retardation. Paralyzed from the waist down and unable to speak, she has been raised in a dog pen by an abusive father who considers her nothing more than an animal. Upon the murder of her father and the arrest of her mother for the crime, she is placed in a mental institution where she meets a psychologist who feels certain that there is more to Baby than meets the eye. With the help of the psychologist, Baby sets out to prove her mother’s innocence. The story ends with one of the most exciting courtroom scenes ever.

We cannot wait. Have you written any other novels?
No, this is my first novel.

At the moment, I do not have plans for another book.

So what motivated you to write this one?
I am a mental health professional working with individuals with intellectual disabilities.

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