Book Review: Dani's Story: A Journey from Neglect to Love by Diane and Bernie Lierow

In July 2005, a little girl named Danielle was removed from her Florida home after authorities found her living in bug-ridden squalor, subjected to horrific neglect and so damaged by her own mother that recovery seemed hopeless. Danielle spoke only in grunts and yelps, walked on her tiptoes, was not toilet-trained and drank from a bottle. She was almost seven years old. But hope and help were waiting for this little girl. In October 2007, Bernie and Diane Lierow, a hard-working couple with five boys of their own, adopted her and utterly transformed her life. This book tells the moving story of how the Lierows rescued Dani and helped her recover to the point where she can not only communicate, something once thought impossible, but can say of herself, "I pretty." Dani's Story was featured on Oprah and the subject of a Pulitzer Prize-winning article published by the St. Petersburg Times. The Lierows describe their struggle to adopt Dani, how they bonded with her and made a home for her, how they satisfied her craving for contact and stimuli, how Dani began to overcome her severe learning disabilities, how she learned she no longer had to steal food, and how their son Willie may be the greatest brother ever. Charting a perilous journey from hardship to hope, a new family, and a second chance at life, Dani's Story is a book you cannot put down and will never forget.

Release Date: June 21, 2011
Age Group: Adult
Publisher: John Wiley and Sons
Source: Borrowed from my mom

My mom heard about Dani's Story, and knew that she had to read about Dani's transformation from a neglected, abused child to one with a family that adores her.  I was lucky enough to borrow my mom's copy of the book after she finished it.  Having just read the David Pelzer books (A Child Called It, The Lost Boy, and A Man Named Dave), I was ready for another moving story.  

Dani's Story is heartbreaking, but ultimately uplifting.  It is told from the adoptive parents' point of view, so it was a little less personal than the first-person narrative in the David Pelzer books.  I have to say that I did miss the personal narrative I loved in David Pelzer's books.

The Lierows take the reader through their journey to adopt, starting with their decision to adopt a child, ending after they have finally welcomed Dani into their home.  Some of the bureaucratic red tape regarding the adoption process got repetitive and slowed down the story.  But, I understand why it was included---that's really how things work in the process of adoption.

What Dani endures for her first seven years was horrific.  The Lierows learn the details of her abuse from Dani's case worker.  They are stunned at how she lived until she was finally rescued from her birth mother's home.  It really was unbelievable, to think that a mother could do that to her child.  Being a new mother myself, this part of the story really hit home with me. 

Much of the story focuses on Dani's growth and acceptance of the Lierow family.  The things they did for her were heroic, in my opinion.  They truly saved Dani, and she in return, has enriched their lives in ways they did not think possible.

Overall, I enjoyed Dani's Story.  It is definitely worth your time, and I would recommend it to anyone.


  1. Wow. Poor Dani. And what wonderful people. Sounds like a great story.

  2. What an amazing story. I am so sorry to hear what Dani had to endure- but glad for her that she found people to love her and show her the kindness she deserves.



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