Cohen (Loose Girl: A Memoir of Promiscuity, 2008, etc.) wants her readers to understand the process of raising an autistic child. Despite her good intentions, she has trouble adhering to her topic and including relevant details.
The author relates the many challenges unique to parenting a child with autism, but most readers will be less interested in the Cohen’s mundanely unraveling marriage, her exhaustively catalogued emotional needs (which she feels freer to share with readers than with her husband) or the various kinds of “energy” other people put out that she picks up on. The book reads more like a series of confessional journal entries than a well-structured memoir. Presumably because she is a trained psychotherapist, as well as a longtime recipient of psychotherapy, Cohen's writing often assumes an irritatingly clinical tone. The author is at her best when she ponders crucial questions related to the diagnosis and treatment of her son's condition—What is autism? Should autistic children be forced to behave in more “normal” ways? What is “normal”?—but she strains readers' patience with constant diatribes directed at well-meaning therapists, doctors, teachers, babysitters, “ex” friends and strangers she believes wronged her son, as well as gratuitous descriptions of her own parents' flaws and her not-quite-an-affair with a married friend. Cohen could have written a compelling essay about her son's autism for a parenting magazine; she does not have enough cohesive, original material to sustain an entire book.
Repetitive, strained and gratingly self-righteous.