Ben Bradlee’s all-American football player father lost his well-paying job in the Depression and never recovered his income but also never lost his balance and energy. Living on a borrowed estate, he undertook to clear the property, and his young son bonded with his father as they worked alongside each other in the woods. When thirteen-year-old Ben contracted polio, his father nursed him back to health until they could go to work again.
Ben Bradlee tells the story of how this lifelong love of working outdoors enabled him to forge an intimate connection with his own son, Quinn, who was born with a heart defect and is learning disabled.
Quinn Bradlee writes about how his father gave him courage and confidence, about what it is like not just to be the son of the Ben Bradlee but his father’s best pal. He tells wistfully how their roles have reversed and how he has become his father’s protector.
Sally Quinn, wife and mother, offers her observation on fathers and sons in this joyous celebration of a special relationship.
A Different Life: Growing Up Learning Disabled and Other Adventures (2009)
Born with a hole in his heart that required invasive surgery when he was only three months old, Quinn Bradlee suffered from a battery of illnesses—seizures, migraines, fevers—from an early age. But it wasn’t until he was fourteen that Bradlee was correctly diagnosed with Velo-Cardio-Facial Syndrome (VCFS), a widespread, little-understood disorder that is expressed through a wide range of physical ailments and learning disabilities.
Ten percent of the population is affected by a learning disability, but few of us understand what being learning disabled (LD) is really like. In this funny, moving, and often irreverent book, Bradlee tells his own inspirational story of growing up as an LD kid—and of doing so as the child of larger-than-life, formidably accomplished parents: long-time Washington Post executive editor Ben Bradlee and bestselling author Sally Quinn. From his difficulties reading social cues, to his cringe-worthy loss of sexual innocence, Bradlee describes the challenges and joys of living “a different life” with disarming candor and humor. By the end of A Different Life he will have become, if not your best friend, one of your favorite people.
I Can't Do This But; I Can Do That: A Film For Families About Learning Differences (2010)
This 30-minute documentary takes an enlightening look at young people with a wide spectrum of learning differences; offering a compelling portrait of the ways in which these children are able to compensate by using their strengths to overcome their challenges.