From the book jacket:
Stephen Marsh is a
true Brit; Melanie, a transplanted American. They have two
children, four-year-old Emily and Daniel, just three. When they learn that Daniel is autistic the orderly life of their family is shattered.
Melanie is determined to fight to teach Daniel to speak, play and become as "normal" as possible. Her enchanting disposition has already helped her weather other life storms, but Daniel's autism may just push her over the brink, destroying her resolute optimism and bringing her unsteady marriage to an inglorious end. The situation is not helped by Stephen's far-from-supportive parents, who proudly display the family tree with Melanie's name barely penciled in, and who remain disconcertingly attached to Stephen's ex-fiancée, a woman apparently intent on restaking her claim on Stephen.
Melanie does have one strong ally in Andy, a talented and off-the-wall play therapist who specializes in teaching autistic children. Andy proves that Daniel is far more capable than anyone imagined, and Melanie finds herself drawn to him even as she staggers toward resolving her marriage.
Comment: There have been many non-fiction books written recently about autism, including titles such as The Boy Who Loved Windows; there have also been many fiction books, most notably The Curious Incident of the Dog in The Night-Time. In fact, there have been so many that we've got to the point of almost rejecting such books out of hand, thinking that you, BookBrowse's wonderful members, might be overdosing on the subject. So, when a copy of Daniel Isn't Talking landed on my desk, I really only meant to skim a few pages before putting it aside, but found myself hooked by the novel's first person voice that is so compelling that I kept forgetting that I was reading fiction.
This is not a 'great novel' but it is a well told, strong story - and definitely worth a second glance. As Kirkus Reviews says, "Her narration is frank and unapologetic, infused with a well-deserved crankiness that occasionally erupts in surprising flashes of humor. A skillfully crafted and bracingly unsentimental look at one mother's love - sometimes tender, sometimes frantic, always fierce - in the face of adversity."
This review was originally published in April 2006, and has been updated for the May 2007 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.
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