A mother-and-daughter collaboration employing poetry reveals how “the impenetrable walls of autism” are breached.
Interspersing memories and photos with heartfelt pride in her daughter, Breen presents Elizabeth’s poetry throughout this chronicle of finding relative peace amid countless challenges. While the poems do not differ markedly from those penned by many teens, the fact that they represent missives from an otherwise silent, autistic individual forms a locus for the author. She offers them as evidence of Elizabeth’s capacity for expression and spirituality despite being “prison-pent in her silent cage,” and as an encouragement that poetry “opens a heavenly door.” Some readers may bristle at the general portrayal of autism as a “burden” to “conquer” and at her comparison of parenting struggles to 9/11; Breen also emerges as a controversial proponent of autism as a form of suffering rather than as another modality for being. Her hope that “God or medical science, or a combination” will provide healing is best suited for a primarily Christian readership with similar beliefs.
Curiously unsatisfying, particularly in asides involving the author (as when she likens a career in venture capitalism to autism, and relates tales of a Tibetan excursion), the book is redeemed by the acknowledgment of the patience, dedication, love and listening required between every parent and child.