Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Book Review: George and Sam

I always meant to do book reviews on this blog, but it's been difficult. I read a lot of very different things for my job, as a librarian, and just because. But here's one I finished recently"

"George and Sam: Two Boys, One Family and Autism" by Charlotte Moore.
Moore is a British writer and friend of Nick Hornby, who raved about this book in "The Polysyllabic Spree". It wasn't available in the US until recently. Moore has taken up the task of describing the experience of living with two children with autism as clearly and accurately as she can. This is a rather unsentimental view of "autists", as she calls them. But at the same time, it is clearly evident that she fiercely loves all of her children and would not change them if she could. When describing her perpetual state of sleep deprivation, Moore says, "Acceptance is key - for me, anyway. Once I'd let myself stop fighting the boys' sleep habits, everything improved. One should set oneself realistic targets." This sums up Moore's approach to rearing her autistic boys. She walks the fine line between acceptance, which could easily veer over into passivity, and active education/rehabilitation, which also, taken too far, can become obsession. I think she does an admirable job. I don't agree with everything she says (she is adamantly against mainstreaming even high functioning autisitic children in school), but she does try many treatments, with different degrees of results. Above all, Moore's humanity shines through. Her book is heartbreaking and sardonic at the same time. She doesn't ever feel sorry for herself. As a writer, she ruminates eloquently on what autism "means" to us "normal" people. Moore says, "...autism challenges our assumptions about what it means to be human...they can be instruments for us to learn benevolence upon; unwittingly, they provide a yardstick for neurotypical moral behavior."

1 comment:

Janice said...

I read this book and loved it :) I liked the way she was positive about her boys.

As someone who works with Intellectually Disabled people they have a lot of good qualities not seen by those who don't know them