Excerpt from Eye Contact by Cammie McGovern, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Eye Contact

by Cammie McGovern

Eye Contact
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Jun 2006, 304 pages
    Mar 2007, 320 pages

  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse Review Team

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

Adam is loved, by the adults of the school anyway, who always talk about his big smile, the dancing joy on his face when he comes in from recess. Though he’s still, at age nine, capable of the occasional inexplicable tantrum that embarrasses everyone, he can also be magically uncomplicated: offered the promise of a gumdrop or a chance to listen in on afternoon band practice, he nearly explodes with delight. “No, really?” he’ll say, a new favorite expression. “No really? A gumdrop?” In the middle of an elementary school full of children aging too rapidly, dressing like pop stars, carrying cell phones, Adam is, for some of these grandmotherly types, the perfect eternal child—happy with the mundane, a pile of wood chips, a tuft of dryer lint, nothing really. One year, even the principal, sensible Margot, with her boxy orthopedic shoes and terrible crocheted vests, ended an IEP meeting by saying, “Adam is a jewel, Cara, and we all love him. I just wanted to say that.”

Cara has always taken such comments as hopeful beacons for the future. Adults love him, and one day he’ll be an adult, too! The implication, in her hopeful heart’s logic: loved then, too! Appreciated by people who are his age, not thirty years older!

It’s a stretch, though, and it requires more work every year to stay optimistic about Adam’s future in the face of the growing gap between him and his peers. He’s in third grade now, and the list of things he can’t do grows longer every year, more exacting, and in her mind more ominous. He can’t tell time, can’t grasp abstract time concepts: yesterday, tomorrow, next week. He can’t play card games, still adds two dice by counting dots. “Shouldn’t he be good at this math stuff?” a teacher once asked, thinking obviously: Rain Man, Dustin Hoffman. “He’s not,” Cara said in a rare curt moment. “Autistic kids are all very different, and math is Adam’s weakest subject. He’s fine with reading. Fine. Grade level.” She said this emphatically, though there was actually some question about this, too, a lower score on comprehension than he’d gotten six months earlier, which she has to investigate but hasn’t gotten around to because there are so many gaps, so many deficits now, countless questions that run through her mind every night: Why worry about reading when the math is so low? Why worry about math when he is still, three days out of seven, not dressing himself? Why worry about any of these things when it has been nearly a year since he’s had a playdate? Recently she has been falling asleep every night stewing about playdates, thinking: I’ve got to try another one soon. Kids like Adam well enough, or at least they don’t mind coming over and playing with his things. Sometimes she’ll get the type who will spend the whole time talking to her and she’ll watch sweet Adam in the corner, hands clasped in joy at the ease of this get-together, how smoothly it is going, as if he wants to say, I love my mother and look! So do you! Afterward, she will have to go over it all, remind him that one has to talk to people to be their friend, has to answer questions, has to, for instance, say hello. And Adam’s face will fall slowly, take in what she is saying in pieces—that it hasn’t really been a success, that friendship requires something more complicated than standing in the same room, among the same toys, though Cara, with her own history of failed friendships, can hardly say with any certainty what this should be.

The whole enterprise makes her sad, unable to think about the great gray morass of Adam’s future. Math isn’t his weakest subject, really. His weakest subject is life, and everything about moving through it. Last week, lost in his own thoughts, Adam very nearly followed the wrong woman off the bus. Cara had to reach out, snap his coat hood, and bark, “Adam, look up.” “Oh, oh, oh,” he said, his face awash in gratitude and relief: Almost lost and then saved! He pressed his forehead against her chest, gasped and giggled and almost cried as he said, over and over, “You’re okay, you’re okay.” Nine years old and in a panic, he still reverses his pronouns, still echoes words of comfort exactly as they’ve been given to him. “You are okay,” she said, ruffling his hair as he stood rocking beside her, her baby boy, her preteen, his cheek pressed oddly to the side of her breast.

Excerpt from EYE CONTACT by Cammie McGovern. Reprinted by arrangement with Viking, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., from EYE CONTACT Copyright (c) Cammie McGovern, 2006

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko
    The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko
    by Scott Stambach
    BookBrowse First Impression reviewers were uniformly impressed by this difficult yet heartwarming ...
  • Book Jacket: Boy Erased
    Boy Erased
    by Garrard Conley
    Growing up in rural Arkansas, Garrard Conley did not quite fit the mold of his strait-laced, ...
  • Book Jacket: The Bones of Grace
    The Bones of Grace
    by Tahmima Anam
    The Bones of Grace completes Tahmima Anam's Bangladesh trilogy. The three novels, which can be ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Underground Airlines
    by Ben Winters

    "The Invisible Man meets Blade Runner in this outstanding alternate history thriller." - PW Star

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko
    by Scott Stambach

    "An auspicious, gut-wrenching, wonderful debut." - Kirkus, starred review

    Read Member Reviews

Book Discussions
Book Jacket
This Must Be the Place
by Maggie O'Farrell

An irresistible love story for fans of Beautiful Ruins and Where'd You Go, Bernadette?

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Lady Cop Makes Trouble

The Kopp Sisters Return!

One of the nation's first female deputy sheriffs returns in another gripping adventure based on fact.


Word Play

Solve this clue:

Manners M (T) M

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.


Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!

Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.