An honest, riveting work about living with autism that will enlighten and offer hope to readers.


Pointing Is Rude


NFL Films producer and debut author O’Brien offers a frank, firsthand account of his and his family’s journey with autism, starting with his son’s early childhood diagnosis.

The author had a lot going for him when his twin children, Grace and Frederick, were born in 2001. He and his wife, Bernadette, had a strong, loving relationship and a supportive extended family; he was also enthusiastic about his sports-producer job and fatherhood. But as time passed, concerns about Frederick surfaced. At first, the O’Briens assumed that he was just a late bloomer, but by the time he was about a year old, they realized that he wasn’t connecting emotionally with people. After countless evaluations and interventions, Frederick was diagnosed with the dreaded “A word.” His autism, along with a degree of mental disability, translated into a lifelong need for constant assistance and supervision. This book, however, is not a simple or predictable inspirational story. Instead, it recounts the complications and nuances, both logistical and emotional, of living in a family with a special needs child. The intense work never ended, and it took an undeniable toll; O’Brien reveals many negative emotions, including jealousy (of neurotypical families), anger, and sadness, and he describes frustrating attempts at “normal” family dinners and theme-park excursions, during which the family felt the glares of the uninformed. But the book also includes good measures of joy and revelation, showing the family’s rocky journey to acceptance and their improbable adoption of an infant son from Ethiopia—an event that turned out to be a well-timed gift to all the family members. The author packs the book with anecdotes, often told with wry wit, which make his story highly tangible. He also shares abundant insights, including spiritual perspectives and thoughts on the benefits of being Frederick’s father. There are a few text-formatting issues, including some unnecessarily boldfaced type, but they don’t detract from the overall quality of the read.

An honest, riveting work about living with autism that will enlighten and offer hope to readers.

Pub Date: N/A


Page Count: -

Publisher: Heliotrope Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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