HARMONY by Carolyn Parkhurst
Kirkus Star


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A couple driven to desperation by the challenges of raising an extraordinary 13-year-old and her younger sister moves off the grid with a charismatic parenting guru.

From the first sentences of this unusual and compelling novel—“In another world, you make it work. In another world, you never even hear the name ‘Scott Bean’ ”—pages turn with the momentum of an emotional thriller. But Parkhurst (The Nobodies Album, 2011, etc.) offers much more than the gradual dealing out of the disaster that awaits the Hammond family after they give up their lives in Washington, D.C., to move to a wilderness camp in New Hampshire led by maverick autism counselor Scott Bean. The characters of Alexandra Hammond, her husband, Josh, and their daughters, Tilly and Iris, go straight to your heart via three intertwined narrative threads. One belongs to Iris, 11: the story of what happens at Camp Harmony unfolds through her sharp, Harriet-the-Spy–esque eyes. Each family has one kid who’s different, she realizes, though they are different in very different ways; she’s the “normal” one, the “good” one. When she overhears her mother describe her as “NT” she hopes it means something like Natural Talent; it’s disappointing to find out it’s just “neurotypical.” Alexandra tells the story of the family’s life leading up to the move: her marriage to her teenage sweetheart, the births of their daughters, the realization of Tilly’s difference, the ever growing stress associated with it. “Here are some of the things you’re not posting on Facebook during February of 2010: Alexandra Moss Hammond’s daughter has changed the name of Shel Silverstein’s poetry collection to 'Where the Pussy Ends.' Alexandra Hammond’s daughter just said in the post office, 'Your tits are huge. Did I really used to suck on those?' " A third series of chapters is written by Tilly at some unspecified future date, brilliant, funny, and beautiful monologues that show how deeply Parkhurst understands what she’s writing about.

Suspenseful, moving, and full of inspiration and insight about parenting a child with autism.

Pub Date: Aug. 2nd, 2016
ISBN: 978-0-399-56260-0
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Viking
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 2016


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