Richard's girlfriend walks out. His business starts losing clients. And there's something terribly wrong with the little girl.
Her name is Bernadette, but Richard calls her "Barney". It's a word his own father used to use... a barney, a row, a terrible racket. And Barney is well-named – she never stops screaming. She hammers her head on the floor and the walls. She's adorable, but she doesn't sleep. She cannot talk. She won't even respond to her name.
Richard slowly faces the unbearable truth that his little girl is profoundly autistic. And as he prepares for a battle simply to be allowed to keep his child, he's only beginning to find out how tough life can be.
Christopher Stevens, the bestselling author of A REAL BOY, draws on painful and intensely personal experiences of raising his own autistic child, to create this compelling story of a single parent who must come to terms with his beloved little girl's autism.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is a novel. The characters are fictional, though they are very real to me. Many of the events in the story did really happen to my family, following the diagnosis of my younger son with autism. I later wrote a memoir about this intensely emotional and exhausting experience: it was published as A REAL BOY. If you have read this memoir, you might recognise some of the scenes and situations in A GIRL CALLED BARNEY – and if you want to read a strictly factual account, the memoir will better suit your needs.
A GIRL CALLED BARNEY is more dramatic, more tragic and less humorous than the later, non-fiction book. I used the novel to express the darker, more frightening emotions that, in real life, we hardly dare admit that we feel.
Praise for A REAL BOY, Christopher Stevens's factual account of raising his autistic son:
Jane Asher, President of the National Autistic Society
"This wonderfully honest book tells us a great deal, not only about autism, but also about the extraordinary tolerance and unselfishness that is borne out of unequivocal love. At the same time, it reveals some uncomfortable truths about the struggle it takes to access the rights of those with disabilities in our so-called civilized society."
The Sun, 15 Feb 08
Daily Mail, February 26, 2008
Christopher Stevens writes poignantly about life with his autistic son. It's a moving account of the boy's struggle to cope with a world that confuses him - and the extraordinary leap forward that gave them all hope.
Bournemouth Daily Echo, 27th June 08
By turns harrowing, humorous and inspirational.
About the Author
Christopher Stevens has been a senior sub-editor at the Observer for fourteen years and is also the author of Born Brilliant, the acclaimed biography of Kenneth Williams; Masters of Sitcom, a celebration of Galton and Simpson; and Thirty Days Has September, the bestselling reference book on Kindle.
Born Brilliant was shortlisted for a "Sherry", the Sheridan Morley Theatre Biography Prize. It was adapted and broadcast as a Radio Four Book of the Week.