FOLLOWING EZRA

WHAT ONE FATHER LEARNED ABOUT GUMBY, OTTERS, AUTISM, AND LOVE FROM HIS EXTRAORDINARY SON

Determinedly upbeat, the author depicts parenting with grace and every child as a gift.

A father celebrates his son’s differences and advises others on how to view autism as a parallel journey rather than a restrictive label.

Chronicling son Ezra’s toddler years through his bar mitzvah, journalist Fields-Meyer (Business Mensch: Timeless Wisdom for Today’s Entrepreneur, 2009, etc.) approaches autism from a topical perspective, creating a loving tribute that favors “following” his son’s interests instead of imposing behavioral or social expectations. Subjects range from the initial diagnosis to Ezra’s deep enchantment with animals, and from learning to read to the rewards and challenges of parenting a child who is spirited and unfiltered in his expressions. This is not the average medical memoir concerned with educating the public, nor does it trace a common tragedy-to-triumph trajectory; the author strongly emphasizes supporting Ezra himself over the condition. Advised early on to “grieve for the child he didn’t turn out to be,” Fields-Meyer quickly realized that there was nothing to grieve, and no sense of blame. Together with his wife and Ezra's brothers, he adapted to life at a slower pace, allowing frustration and wonderment alike to play out naturally. Characteristics of autism, which can include repetition, fixation, facial nuances, lessened eye contact and a superb memory for obscure minutiae are not treated as symptoms to normalize but as opportunities to enter Ezra’s world—whether that means learning the running times of animated films or appreciating honest insights.

Determinedly upbeat, the author depicts parenting with grace and every child as a gift.

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-451-23463-6

Page Count: 256

Publisher: NAL/Berkley

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2011

NIGHT

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS

FROM MEAN STREETS TO WALL STREET

Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

Close Quickview