A personable, informative account of parenting a child with special needs.

SPEAK II ME

A BLACK FATHER’S JOURNEY RAISING A SON ON THE AUTISM SPECTRUM

Jamiyl Samuels, co-founder of children’s literature media company The Amazingly Sensational Kids, offers a memoir about being a parent to a child on the autism spectrum.

The author notes early signs that his son, Trey, born in 2007,exhibited behaviors that one doesn’t often see in neurotypical children. For instance, as a toddler, Trey would run out of the room if the TV screen went to static; although the author didn’t realize it in the moment, Trey was having a reaction due to his senses being overwhelmed. At the age of 5, Trey, who had difficulty understanding words and phrases, was diagnosed with mixed expressive receptive language disorder, and at the age of 7, he was diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. The book details the many struggles that came with these diagnoses. One of the largest problems, the author says, was schooling, as finding the right place to meet their son’s specific needs initially seemed impossible. The book, which features contributions from the author’s wife, Tracy-Ann Samuels, also discusses how the family endured financial stresses from treatments that may or may not have helped Trey. However, the story is ultimately uplifting; the author notes how the family sought comfort in their Christian faith and found that with the right educational environment, Trey could finally thrive. He and his spouse even started a children’s book series, beginning with The Amazingly Awesome Imani (2018), about a superhero with challenges that were similar to Trey’s. The memoir effectively tackles difficult yet edifying issues, and the author doesn’t sugarcoat the problems the family faced. He also offers self-criticisms, as when he states, “I am no longer ashamed to say that I failed my son. It was my inaction that delayed his diagnosis.” Yet the work is still substantially positive, and although later portions, featuring photos and recollections of book signings, aren’t as memorable as early chapters, they may provide a sense of hope for parents of children on the autism spectrum.

A personable, informative account of parenting a child with special needs.

Pub Date: April 19, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-578-28535-1

Page Count: 166

Publisher: Humble Work Publishing

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2022

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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A sweet-and-sour set of pieces on loss, absurdity, and places they intersect.

HAPPY-GO-LUCKY

Sedaris remains stubbornly irreverent even in the face of pandemic lockdowns and social upheaval.

In his previous collection of original essays, Calypso (2018), the author was unusually downbeat, fixated on aging and the deaths of his mother and sister. There’s bad news in this book, too—most notably, the death of his problematic and seemingly indestructible father at 96—but Sedaris generally carries himself more lightly. On a trip to a gun range, he’s puzzled by boxer shorts with a holster feature, which he wishes were called “gunderpants.” He plays along with nursing-home staffers who, hearing a funnyman named David is on the premises, think he’s Dave Chappelle. He’s bemused by his sister Amy’s landing a new apartment to escape her territorial pet rabbit. On tour, he collects sheaves of off-color jokes and tales of sexual self-gratification gone wrong. His relationship with his partner, Hugh, remains contentious, but it’s mellowing. (“After thirty years, sleeping is the new having sex.”) Even more serious stuff rolls off him. Of Covid-19, he writes that “more than eight hundred thousand people have died to date, and I didn’t get to choose a one of them.” The author’s support of Black Lives Matter is tempered by his interest in the earnest conscientiousness of organizers ensuring everyone is fed and hydrated. (He refers to one such person as a “snacktivist.”) Such impolitic material, though, puts serious essays in sharper, more powerful relief. He recalls fending off the flirtations of a 12-year-old boy in France, frustrated by the language barrier and other factors that kept him from supporting a young gay man. His father’s death unlocks a crushing piece about dad’s inappropriate, sexualizing treatment of his children. For years—chronicled in many books—Sedaris labored to elude his father’s criticism. Even in death, though, it proves hard to escape or laugh off.

A sweet-and-sour set of pieces on loss, absurdity, and places they intersect.

Pub Date: May 31, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-39245-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022

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