“Chronic Hope: Raising a Child with Chronic Illness with Grace, Courage, and Love” Book Review


If you have type 1 diabetes or have a loved one who has type 1 diabetes (T1D), then you are already well aware of how much patience, compassion and understanding is required to navigate this unique world of chronic illness.

Author, Bonnie O’Neil, is an advocate and inspirational leader around the topic of being a caregiver for those with a chronic illness. O’Neil’s son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age 5. In addition to her deep knowledge of raising a child with T1D, two of O’Neil’s siblings were diagnosed with T1D at young ages.

In her new book, “Chronic Hope: Raising a Child with Chronic Illness with Grace, Courage, and Love”—O’Neil manages to perfectly capture what it takes to bring all of those things to the table while raising a child with a type 1 diabetes.

The author’s credibility is evident as she addresses every stage of emotion that a parent of a chronically ill child will be face to face with at some juncture. O’Neil speaks on each stage with absolute vulnerability as she describes her family’s experiences from her son’s diagnosis onward.

O’Neil is careful to speak on how she felt it was important to allow her child to learn to navigate his T1D himself without being an overbearing presence. Rather, she chose to be a sturdy support system. The author creates a remarkably safe space for parents and loved ones of someone with a chronic illness. She invites readers to relate to her experience, but she does not force it upon others in a way that doesn’t allow them to find common ground.

O’Neil stresses that caregivers should give themselves some grace, as there is no perfect day or perfect way to manage an illness. An overall feeling of loss of control over her family’s lives is an important topic for which readers are sure to grab their highlighters. The common daily anxieties and hardships the author faced are always thoughtfully addressed.

In chapters that isolate specific aspects of early life with chronic illness, such as “Anger,” “Safe,” “Guilt,” “Stigma,” “Fatigue,” and “Trust,” just to name a few—the author ends each section with questions that readers can ask themselves regarding their own emotional as well as practical responses to these issues.

No matter your place in your journey with your own chronic illness or with a loved one—O’Neil’s book provides insight and support every step of the way. Living with type 1 diabetes or any other illness or disability can often feel heavy, dark and sometimes hopeless. Chronic Hope offers exactly what is advertised: hope. Hope that things will get easier. Hope that we will find our place in the community. Hope that we will find comfort in the connections we make and resources that we stumble upon along our journey.

Much like O’Neil’s book.

Learn more about Bonnie O’Neil and where to get a copy of her book at: bonnieoneil.com

WRITTEN BY Alexi Melvin, POSTED 09/16/21, UPDATED 12/06/22

Alexi Melvin serves as chair of the Leadership Council’s Content Committee. She is a journalist who has written for The San Francisco Chronicle, Beyond Type 1 and other digital publications. Alexi is also a voiceover actor and reiki master. In addition to her dedication to being a voice for people living with type 1 diabetes (T1D) everywhere, she has always been passionate about meditation and energy healing. Before getting her Bachelor of Arts degree at The New School University, she studied acting at the Lee Strasberg Institute. She hopes to continue her healing work, and to connect with other T1Ds through her travels and writing opportunities.