Summary and book reviews of Eye Contact by Cammie McGovern

Eye Contact

By Cammie McGovern

Eye Contact
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  • Hardcover: Jun 2006,
    304 pages.
    Paperback: Mar 2007,
    320 pages.

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Book Summary

A young girl has been murdered and the only witness is a child who cannot tell what he saw.

In the woods of a small town, Adam, a nine-year-old autistic boy, is discovered hiding near to the body of his classmate. They both wandered off from the school playground several hours earlier, and now the police are relying on Adam as the only witness to an appalling crime. But he can't tell the police what he saw—or what he heard. Barely verbal on the best of days, Adam has retreated into a silent world that Cara, his mother, knows only too well.

With her community in shock and her son unable to help with the police investigation, Cara tries to decode the puzzling events. Adam has never broken the rules before, so why did he disappear with the little girl during recess? As a single mother, Cara has devoted her life to opening paths of communication between her son and the outside world. Now, she must interpret the changes in Adam's behavior not only to help him through the trauma, but to help the police catch a killer. Cammie McGovern brings her own experience as the mother of an autistic child to articulate the struggles—and the victories—that consume the lives of parents raising children with special needs. A powerful story of the tangled emotional bond between mother and son, and a thrilling novel of psychological suspense, Eye Contact won't let you go. Lovers of Mystic River will be captivated by this fresh and fascinating journey into the world of a child in crisis and a mother who longs to bring him through unscathed.

Excerpt
Eye Contact

“Kevin is fine,” Miss Lattimore, their fifth-grade teacher told them. “Just fine. He’s had a little bit of brain damage, that’s all.” She held up her hand, thumb and forefinger out, so they all saw: Just an inch of brain damage. “If he has trouble doing certain things, like talking, for instance, or getting around, remember: inside he’s just the same.” She closed her inch-measuring fingers into a fist and thunked her chest. “He has exactly the same feelings you do.”

Cara and Suzette eyed each other. Suzette’s father’s secretary was Kevin’s aunt. They already knew Kevin wasn’t fine, that he used a walker and could only operate one side of his face. Drool was a problem, as was the bathroom. Kevin used to be a regular boy no one thought much about until last summer when he rode his bike helmetless down the long hill of Brewster Boulevard into the side of a Pepperidge ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
Introduction

When Cara is called in to her nine-year-old son Adam's school one afternoon, she tries not to expect the worst. Because Adam is autistic, Cara—a single mother—has spent many hours with his teachers, principals, and guidance counselors discussing her son's development, and it isn't unusual for Adam to throw a tantrum at school that would necessitate her presence.

But today is different. Adam is missing, and he hasn't been found in any of his usual hiding places. He broke a rule (which he never does) and disappeared during recess, presumably having left school grounds. When the police find him later that afternoon, Cara is stunned to find out that Adam—who has no friends at school to speak of—...
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Reviews

BookBrowse

Eye Contact has a wide cast of characters (one reviewer felt a few too many) but they are all well-drawn and, on the whole, ring true. The most richly imagined are Cara, Adam's mother, and Morgan, a troubled 13-year-old boy who's determined to solve the crime as a way to atone for his own perceived guilt. McGovern wraps all these richly drawn characters, and a host of astute insights, around a gripping mystery which twists and turns down a good few dead ends before arriving at its unexpected conclusion.   (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).

Full Review Members Only (742 words).

Media Reviews
Publishers Weekly

Meticulously researched and emotionally absorbing.

Booklist

Tightly woven and gripping, this literary mystery takes several unexpected twists and turns as it builds to the resolution.

Library Journal

This page-turner is a rewarding look into the life of a mother who must discover the truth, even if it ends up hurting her-and her son-in the process.

Kirkus Reviews

Despite some flaws, a generally successful combination of compassionate domestic realism and pulse-rattling suspense.

Author Blurb Michael Paterniti, author of Driving Mr. Albert: A Trip Across America with Einstein's Brain
Once in a blue moon comes a literary thriller so full of our everyday lives that it rocks you back on your heels. This is it! This book. These sweet, funny, heartbreaking characters--these mothers and sons, broken friends and lovers--including one unforgettable little boy whose last gesture in those deadly, mysterious woods recalls our lost innocence. Eye Contact is a thrilling mystery tautly told, and beautifully realized. In it, Cammie McGovern leads us through the shadowlands of our own hometowns where words break down and paranoias proliferate, even as we yearn for one lost moment of fluency. This is a book of secrets that will change you.

Author Blurb Patricia Stacey, author of The Boy Who Loved Windows
n the tradition of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, Cammie McGovern delivers a compelling murder mystery that intrigues as much by what it hides as by what it so deftly reveals--the stark, poignant, deeply intimate moments in the lives of people living with autism and those who love them.

Reader Reviews
Me

Eye contact
Eye Contact was a very good book. It was very thrilling at the start but more towards the end it started to become a little slow. It was a book you need to read twice to understand the ending. It switches a lot in your mind on who killed the little ...   Read More

Marie

Too much bad language :(
I enjoyed the first half of this book. It was a page turner. However as I got further into it I started seeing the F-word here and there. The book took on a darker theme. By the end I wanted to find out the answer to the mystery but I didn't want to ...   Read More

smokey

Eye Contact
I loved this book. I couldn't put it down. It was very interesting and suspenseful. It had a lot of details. READ THIS

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Beyond the Book

Like Cara, Cammie McGovern is the mother of an autistic boy; she says that about four years ago she started writing a nonfiction account of the time just before and after her son's diagnosis.  However, she eventually put the memoir aside to return to fiction because she says, "I knew how to create a story and keep it moving along with suspense and surprises better than I knew how to report the countless ways that those years were hard and lonely for our family."  She's glad that she returned to the familiar medium of fiction (she's the author of one previous novel, The Art of Seeing, 2002 and many short stories) because she says there are so many wonderful memoirs written by parents already - two of her favorites...

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