Summary and book reviews of Harmony by Carolyn Parkhurst

Harmony by Carolyn Parkhurst
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Aug 2016, 288 pages
    Paperback:
    Jun 2017, 288 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Norah Piehl

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About this Book

Book Summary

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Dogs of Babel, a taut, emotionally wrenching story of how a seemingly "normal" family could become desperate enough to leave everything behind and move to a "family camp" in New Hampshire - a life-changing experience that alters them forever.

How far will a mother go to save her family? The Hammond family is living in DC, where everything seems to be going just fine, until it becomes clear that the oldest daughter, Tilly, is developing abnormally - a mix of off-the-charts genius and social incompetence. Once Tilly - whose condition is deemed undiagnosable - is kicked out of the last school in the area, her mother Alexandra is out of ideas.

The family turns to Camp Harmony and the wisdom of child behavior guru Scott Bean for a solution. But what they discover in the woods of New Hampshire will push them to the very limit. Told from the alternating perspectives of both Alexandra and her younger daughter Iris (the book's Nick Carraway), this is a unputdownable story about the strength of love, the bonds of family, and how you survive the unthinkable.

Prologue

In another world, you make it work. In another world, you never even hear the name "Scott Bean." Or you do, and you maybe even subscribe to his newsletter, but on the night that he comes to speak at a library not far from your house, Iris is sent home from school with a stomach bug, or Josh is out of town and you don't want to hire a sitter. You figure you'll catch him next time. Later, when you hear his name on the news and it sounds familiar, you shake your head and think, "What a wacko." It doesn't even occur to you to say, "That could have been me." Because you know yourself, and it goes without saying. You would never get mixed up in something like that. End of story.



Chapter 1

Iris
June 3, 2012: New Hampshire

The camp is in New Hampshire. We've been driving for two days now—well, not literally, because we stopped at a hotel overnight and we've taken breaks to eat and go to the bathroom, but you know what I mean. We've been driving ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Parkhurst writes with compassion and sensitivity about the experience of parenting and fervently loving a child drastically different from the one you imagined.   (Reviewed by Norah Piehl).

Full Review Members Only (560 words).

Media Reviews

People

Propulsive. . . Everything from the parents’ desperation to the camp’s creepy vibe feels vividly real, and this provocative page-turner also invites important, broader conversations about autism.

The Washington Post

Parkhurst cements herself as a writer capable of astonishing humanity and exquisite prose, someone whose wisdom parents and their judges should heed.

USA Today

Darkly funny and suspenseful, with a palpable sense of dread that propels readers toward anticipatory horror. Parkhurst draws the Hammond family with depth and sensitivity. . . . [a] sensational exploration of what it means to be a family with a special needs child.


Told from the viewpoints of Alexandra, Tilly, and Iris, Parkhurst’s memorable tale features a complex cast of characters and a series of conundrums with no easy answers. Book-discussion groups will be particularly interested in the tale’s numerous deftly explored gray areas.

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review. Suspenseful, moving, and full of inspiration and insight about parenting a child with autism.

Author Blurb Jodi Picoult, New York Times bestselling author of Leaving Time
Gorgeously written and patently original.

Author Blurb Kim Edwards, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Memory Keeper's Daughter
In this gripping, timely novel, Carolyn Parkhurst follows the Hammond family as they give up everything... and ultimately reveals the healing power of love.

Author Blurb Jami Attenberg, New York Times bestselling author of The Middlesteins
A fascinating tale of a family taking a crazy risk to save themselves. I read it in one giant gulp - Harmony is absolutely riveting.

Reader Reviews

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Beyond the Book

Spring Temple Buddha

Like many kids on the autism spectrum, Tilly has a passionate interest, one she loves to research and that she'll happily talk your ear off about if you ask (or even if you don't). In her case, she's fascinated by massive sculptures past and present, from the Colossus of Rhodes to the Lincoln Monument.

Spring Temple BuddhaMore than anything else, though, Tilly likes to talk about the Spring Temple Buddha, the world's largest statue. Built between 1997 and 2008 in a relatively remote part of China's HenanProvince (a common site for Buddhist pilgrimages) the statue stands 420 feet tall (502 if you count the base, which Tilly doesn't). The statue depicts Vairocana Buddha, which illustrates, among other things, "shunyata," the Buddhist ...

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