College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences Theses and Dissertations

Graduation Date


Document Type


Department/Program Conferring Degree

Writing & Publishing


family, memoir, childhood, special needs, divorce


When she was a child, Nikki Bartoloni identified herself by two major events. The first event took place before she was born, when her older brother Tony was born with a rare chromosome disorder called Saether Chotezen Syndrome, leaving him at the mental and physical capabilities of a young child for the duration of his life. The second event occurred five years later, with her parents’ divorce and her father’s relocation from their home in St. Louis, Missouri to Minneapolis to be with the woman he loved. When her mother moves Tony home after five years at a group house, twenty-one-year-old Nikki starts to reflect on the ripples of these two events. Is it her responsibility to move home from college in Chicago to help her mother take care of Tony, like she did as a child? What would their lives be like if they had lived in Minneapolis with their father? What are her responsibilities as Tony’s sister now that she is a young adult?

My Boy is a story about love and how we express it. For Nikki, her mother’s love for Tony is one she may never match. Her father’s decision to leave her for love is one she must try to understand. But throughout it all, Tony is the manifestation of instant and unadulterated love.

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