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Soon Will Come the Light: A View from Inside the Autism Puzzle
Soon Will Come the Light: A View from Inside the Autism Puzzle
by Thomas McKean
Edition: Paperback
Price: £15.50

2.0 out of 5 stars Open Ended Questions, 26 Jan. 2011
Thomas McKean was born on Paul McCartney Day, June 18, 1967. Interestingly, over time June 18, which has been recognized as Paul McCartney Day has also been given the honor of National Autism Day. Paul McCartney's first and former fiancee, Jane Asher is currently involved with autism in England. Sadly, Thomas, the 3rd of 4 children, was born during the Dark Ages when autism was viewed as emotional/psychological instead of the neurobiological condition that it is.

Some of Thomas' early autistic behaviors included a delay in speech; sensitivity to sounds and texture and a limited range of food preferences. He even said that to this day he derives comfort in watching spinning objects.

Sadly, Thomas suffered some horrendous treatments and experience. From early childhood, he was taken to a round of doctors; submitted to the same battery of tests and was never given any real answers. It was not until March of 1991, nearly 10 years after he served 3 years in a hospital that he discovered his true diagnosis - autism!

Thomas, at the behest of his school and recommending physician was admitted to a hospital where he served a harrowing sounding 3 years. His sentence commenced on July 3, 1980 and he was released the late summer of 1983. During his time there, the treatment he was subjected to was appalling. For starters, there was one co-ed pod which the young inmates vied to stay in and two other pods, one for boys and the other for girls. One wonders why there would be a co-ed pod with an adolescent age group in that setting.

In an especially harrowing case, another inmate dangled Thomas over the bridge leading to the hospital, literally threatening his life. Fortunately the bridge design has since been remodeled, but it does beg the question of why the place did not have staff supervising that bridge.

The "therapy," if it can be called that included being locked up if one were to hug or touch another affectionately while being punished for another infraction. Early Bed Time (or EBT) as it was called there meant that certain infractions could cost a person a half hour each day and in some cases, inmates were sent to their rooms as early as 4:00 p.m.! If that was not bad enough, one could not leave their room, even to use the bathroom. That resulted in some nasty bathroom incidents in the rooms which could be blamed on the staff. They created that problem and then had the chutzpah to blame the kids for what they had caused!

Another ignominious and, to my way of thinking useless exercise was for a therapist to tell someone to throw a ball of clay on a mat. Thomas points out that for many with sensory issues, the feel of the clay and the sound of it hitting something is quite unpleasant. How true. To make matters worse, instead of LISTENING to Thomas and his fellow inmates, the doctor focussed attention on that damn clay. Thomas raised excellent points about how questionable at best the methods there were. One also wonders why Thomas' parents did not visit him during that 3 year sentence.

Once released, Thomas made friends, starting with Gwendolyn and Michael, a very spiritual couple who helped him discover many of his own talents. He would later make contact with Mira Rothenberg, author of Children with Emerald Eyes: Histories of Extraordinary Boys and Girls and founder of the Blueberry School in New York. He wrote her in March of 1991 and by August of that year was giving talks at the Autism Society of America (ASA). Thomas even said that for the first time in his life he felt needed.

A gifted man, Thomas customized his watch to perform other functions in addition to reducing the pressure on his wrist. He also devised a telephone that was not too loud and not uncomfortable on his ears. Thanks to Annabelle Stehli, whose daughter Georgiania was helped through Auditory Integration Training (AIT), Thomas also underwent this treatment with middling results. It was during this period that he became active in the Autism Community in his native Ohio and was also an advocate.

One part that made me angry was the way Thomas was treated on a return flight. Airline staff treated him with condescension and refused to let him out of their sight until he cleverly dodged a guard, only to stroll leisurely back to board the plane. He later learned that a friend had called the airline and informed flight staff of his autism. He naturally chafed at this ignominious treatment by the flight staff and felt, in his words that he was being treated like some darn "Rain Man," which has become a slur in the Autism community. One fictional prodigious savant does NOT represent the group at large. It is ironic that prodigious savantism has become a stereotype because less than 10% of the autism population even has savant abilities! Thomas even said that during his sentence, a fellow inmate wanted to be autistic as he believed people with autism had savant abilities. Fewer than 10% do.

The latter part of his book is an outline of key bullet items about having autism and what his personal experience has been. He has also included his poems and songs in the book, all of which are high caliber. One part of the book that might catch a reader off guard was his treatise on buying bears. I admit that I initially thought that part was his attempt at throwing in a little levity. In reading it, one could see this was serious and a heartfelt need on his part. Readers came away understanding the origin of that need. In dire need of love and affectionate touches, Thomas goes into excruciating detail on how to acquire bears and what properties to look for in them. That to me seemed extraneous.

I rate this two stars because I found it rather choppily written. I admit that I really did not care for this book. I also didn't like the treatise on bears. While this book provided good information about one person's experience in living with autism, it often felt like it was flagging and sagging in places. I didn't feel this book had the kind of momentum to push it along to the points he was trying to make. There were gaps in the story that left one wondering, such as more about the roles others played in his life. Fortunately, Thomas had Gwen and Michael. While many others enjoyed this book, that's well and good.

News from the Border: A Mother's Memoir of Her Autistic Son
News from the Border: A Mother's Memoir of Her Autistic Son
by Jane Taylor McDonnell
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Long & Winding Road, 8 Jan. 2011
When Paul McDonnell was born in 1972, the world was still in the throes of misperceptions about autism. Paul, a bright child fell through the cracks. He displayed some mildly autistic behaviors, such as lining things and insisting on routine. He was also delayed in language and received intensive help in this area when he was enrolled in a language program in England at age 3.

A bright, curious child, Paul learned how to work a screwdriver by the time he was 3. He delighted in taking screws out of things within his reach. He also became an avid connoiseur of light bulbs. By the time he was 7, he would have 372 light bulbs.

Paul's sister Kate was born when he was 4. She had some minor motor issues which were fortunately corrected with intensive physical exercises. Bright and verbal, Kate would remain Paul's loyal protector. I like the way Kate expressed herself about the family therapy sessions when Paul was in his teens. I felt she made a valid case for herself and that her points were on target and well taken.

*Note: This author uses the American term "stroller" when talking of her toddlers' use of one in America. During their sojourns abroad in the British Isles, she uses the Britishism "pushchair," but reverts to stroller once back in America.

Paul struggled socially and sadly, one mother refused to let her son play with Paul after the boys, then 5 had a playdate. You just wanted to kick the other child's mother in the shins for her blatant rejection of Paul as a playmate for her son. Paul clearly enjoyed the interaction and found it beneficial. While he sadly lost this one contact through no fault of his own, he fortunately made lifelong friends with a boy named Allen who lived in his neighborhood. The two were good influences on each other and would remain friends for life.

Like many people with autism, Paul had special interests. He also has a phenomenal memory for dates, events and facts, which is a real gift. By the time his language became well developed, he demonstrated a superior aptitude for math. At 5, he was avidly interested in maps, which is not uncommon among many people with high functioning autism/Asperger's. He loved to measure and weigh things and having a firm fix on where he was spatially appeared to be a trenchant issue for him. I like the way the McDonnells traveled along with Paul's interests and helped him devleop them.

School remained a challenge for Paul. He had been to the British Isles several times because Jim McDonnell was on sabbaticals there. After what sounded like a traumatic four months in Ireland when Paul was in high school, one could not help but cheer his return to Minnesota. Kate, gifted in language and arts thrived in a well matched school in Ireland whereas Paul struggled socially. He also had to keep up with the Irish curriculum which was some 2 years ahead of what he knew in the U.S.

Once home, Paul contended with a challenging summer in a boarding camp. Having survived that with flying colors, he was enrolled against his will in a day treatment program in a hospital. I didn't like the way staff misread him and jumped to conclusions about his behavior and motives. It turned my stomach when one staff member said their objective was to goad Paul so he'd come out fighting. I am sad to say that is not an uncommon approach many misguided people use on kids with autism. Many kids on the spectrum hate conflict and go into flight/retreat mode. This method is destined to crash and burn.

I liked the Beatle connections in this book, such as hearing the song "Strawberry Fields" while driving past a field of strawberries en route to Paul's day treatment program. Paul had a watch that played "Hey, Jude" and "Yesterday." The Beatle song that describes this book so well is Paul McCartney's "Long & Winding Road" because Paul did indeed travel down a very long and winding road to a happier life.

As a bonus treat, he tells his own story at the very end of the book. He gives good insights into coping with autism and how it has impacted his life.

Paul's story is very uplifting. I like the way he and Kate interacted with each other; I like the way Allen and some other young men went to bat for Paul. Paul in turn would defend a young woman who had been sexually abused; he displayed a high level of caring for others. Paul and countless others are the living refutations of the misperceptions about autism. I am tired of people saying that people with autism lack empathy and can't act. Neither are true. In fact, people with autism act just to navigate in a world slanted in favor of a neurotypical population. I've heard many people with autism say they have to "act" in order to "pass for neurotypical." In reading this book, you will be glad you traveled down the long and winding road with the McDonnells to see Paul settled into adulthood. At last count, Paul is married and blessed with a child who does not appear to be on the spectrum.

Beatle Meets Destiny
Beatle Meets Destiny
by Gabrielle Williams
Edition: Hardcover

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Destined to Cliches, 7 Jan. 2011
This review is from: Beatle Meets Destiny (Hardcover)
John Lennon, 18 and nicknamed "Beatle" is a Beatle's namesake and a senior in a high school in Australia. He believes he is the Chief Beatle, the talented man who shares his name. This boy is racked with superstitious beliefs and omens.

John Lennon has to have a Paul McCartney, but in this parallel literary universe the imaginary John Lennon meets a girl named Destiny McCartney.

Early Beatles' references are abound; John Lennon has a friend named Cilla (think Cilla Black, popular chanteuse of the early 1960s) and one of the Beatles' early concert venues was the Cavern Club. We have to have some mention of the Cavern in this book. Inveterate Beatle fans will immediately pick up on the Beatle references which appear to be applied in a rather heavy handed fashion in this book.

John and Paul called themselves the Nurk Twins early in their career, so naturally our literary Lennon has to have a twin as well. His twin is a sister named Winsome, no doubt inspired by John Winston Lennon. You don't have to wonder who their mother's favorite Beatle was.

Destiny is a wearisome drone who moans about her stolen art supplies (think of John Lennon in Art College) and paranormal interests.

If you want to read a GOOD novel rife with Beatle references, then read The Lonely Hearts Club and PepperlandPepperland and "Rules to Rock By" instead.

A Different Kind of Boy: A Father's Memoir About Raising a Gifted Child with Autism
A Different Kind of Boy: A Father's Memoir About Raising a Gifted Child with Autism
by Daniel Mont
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Calculations in Autism, 17 Dec. 2010
"People say I'm crazy doing what I'm doing
Well they give me all kinds of warnings to save me from ruin
When I say that I'm okay well they look at me kind of strange
Surely you're not happy now you no longer play the game." -- John Lennon, "Watching the Wheels," 1980

When Alex Mont was born in October of 1987, the world was just starting to recognize autism as being the neurobiological condition that it is. From infancy, Alex displayed typically autistic behaviors. His speech and language development were delayed; he did not coo or babble and he could remain focused on hearing the same stories being read ad infinitum. He also spun spherical objects, such as bowls, balls and lids.

"People say I'm lazy dreaming my life away
Well they give me all kinds of advice designed to enlighten me
When I tell them that I'm doing fine watching shadows on the wall
Don't you miss the big time boy you're no longer on the ball." -- John Lennon, "Watching the Wheels"

Readers learn about Daniel Mont and Nanette Goodman, prior to when their sons were born. Daniel had two sisters (Debbie, b. 1959 and Diane, b. 1966), the younger of whom grappled with social and emotional issues, including meltdowns for most of her childhood. She was also harassed by peers. Daniel said his sister Diane was never formally diagnosed despite years of therapy, but salutes her for living independently and making her own life decisions. While not knowing Diane or anything other than what was offered in this book, one cannot help but wonder if she has undiagnosed autism. Perhaps not.

"I'm just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round
I really love to watch them roll
No longer riding on the merry-go-round
I just had to let it go." -- John Lennon, 1980

Change was hard for Alex, but he seemed to adapt to a move from Madison, Wisconsin to Ithaca in 1989. Daniel Mont had accepted a position as an assistant professor at Ithaca. In August of 1989, Alex became a brother when Simon was born. By this point, Alex was phobic of peers; ran from them and reversed his pronouns. He could also read.

"Ah, people asking questions lost in confusion
Well I tell them there's no problem, only solutions
Well they shake their heads and they look at me as if I've lost my mind
I tell them there's no hurry
I'm just sitting here doing time." -- John Lennon, 1980

For many children with autism, peers can be a source of great confusion. Being forced to endure peers who could turn on a dime can make a person with autism feel as if they are doing time.

"Alex simply did not like other children."
"Besides, Alex, who was still shy of a year did not seem to care for other children. ....he could tolerate another child being nearby, but direct interactions were out of the question."
"Alex's near phobia of other children...He was afraid of other kids...fear of children."
"Alex [then 5] was no longer terrified by other children; they were merely a nuisance. He was no longer phobic of other children, but didn't enjoy them." How I loved these passages!

In Finding Ben : A Mother's Journey Through the Maze of Asperger's, Ben, who has Asperger's was described as feeling that "books were better than people, especially children" because books did not make fun of him or try to make him go against his natural inclinations. Who could blame him?

Alex's fear of peers is understandable and one many Aspies will readily recognize and even cheer. For many children on the spectrum, peers pose a threat. What will peers do? What will they say? Is it fight or flight? Older children on the spectrum have often been targeted by bullies. One adult Aspie even said recently, "When I was a child, I viewed peers the way my then adult counterparts viewed death and taxes. Peers were an unpleasant part of life, but they were paramount to everyone else. You were judged by peers; judged by how many friends you had and how many birthday party invitations you received. I didn't even know I had Asperger's then. The way it looked to me is that if you 'fell through the cracks', people were less tolerant of you and viewed you as a Lower Life Form than your neurotypical peers. I got sick of peers calling all the shots and winning at all the games. I wanted to win for real for a change. I wondered just what was so great about peers in the first place. I 'get' Alex. I just reveled in all the passages about his fear of and aversion for peers."

Alex was an extraordinarily gifted child. By age 3, he was reading fluently, identifying complex polygons and playing board games. He had trouble with "fluid" rules, such as pretend play and understanding why "orange" and "range" do not rhyme. His facility for mathematics was nothing short of phenomenal. Daniel Mont was having high level conversations with Alex about marketing techniques, high level mathematics and economics. Alex was counting by 2's and 3's at age 2; by 6 he was comfortable with division which he described as being "just backward multiplication." Math was the key to helping him understand fluidity in rules and pretend play; he applied the concept of "imaginary numbers" ("i," the square root of -1) to try to understand the concept of pretending. For years, he (and this is not uncommon among people with higher functioning autism/Asperger's) could not tell the difference between deception and pretending. That is one many adult Aspies will readily recognize.

Alex was incredibly perceptive; at 6 he called preserves "spreadable fruit" and by 8, he settled into yet another move - this time to Washington D.C. He continued to rack up plaudits for his extraordinary mathematic skills. Ironically and sadly, a group of parents for gifted children at Johns Hopkins blackballed Alex because they felt his behavior precluded him from fitting in with their children. To Daniel Mont's credit, he wrote the organization and told them in no uncertain terms how he felt about his son being ostracized.

During this period, Alex was featured in an article. Like many people on the spectrum, he was "underwhelmed" by this and did not announce this to others or want to talk much about it. He did his job, which was to answer the questions and talk about something he really enjoyed and understood.

Daniel finally got to realize his dream of writing plays and seeing them being performed. This was one of the most uplifting parts in the book.

The 1980 John Lennon classic "Watching the Wheels" and Elvis Presley's 1962 song "Follow that Dream" could easily be the soundtrack of this book. Daniel Mont's account of life with his sons give examples of times when sometimes you just have to let it go. He pursues his own dream, which gives readers great hope and encouragement. Following your dreams wherever they might lead you is the wheel on which hope turns.

Alex has continued to do well academically. This book is an excellent look at autism in a family from a father's point of view.

Something Different About Dad: How to Live With Your Asperger's Parent
Something Different About Dad: How to Live With Your Asperger's Parent
by John Swogger
Edition: Paperback

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Too Much Magic Bus, 17 Dec. 2010
"Thank you, driver, for getting me here (Too much Magic Bus)
You'll be an inspector, have no fear (Too much Magic Bus)
I don't want to cause no fuss (Too much Magic Bus)
But can I buy your Magic Bus? (Too much Magic Bus)" -- The Who

This is an excellent book replete with illustrations, not unlike the Gray's "Social Stories" concept. This illustrated story about two children whose father has Asperger's Syndrome is ideal for older children up to middle school. It is also ideal for families and educators.

The illustrations are excellent. What makes this book even more effective is that the authors had themselves drawn into the story and provided comments about autistic behavior and explaining to readers why Sophie, 9 and Daniel, 12 cope with the behaviors of their father.

Mark, the father of the two children featured in this book fits the classic profile of an adult with Asperger's. His special interest is busses and he meticulously and methodically lines his model busses up and makes sure they are clean. He insists that Sophie and Mark keep their rooms neat at all times and his idea of fun is going to bus themed events. When the kids were younger, they went along, not realizing just how "different" their father was.

This became apparent by the time Sophie was 9 and her parents attended Parents' Night at her school. Mark acted a fool by berating Sophie's teacher for starting late, without realizing that some flexibility had to be allowed for another parent whose time ran over. He criticized Sophie's work and chided her for mispelling a word. His wife tries to calm him down and later passes out a leaflet about Asperger's Syndrome. Mark also gets tense and has meltdowns at family gatherings when many people are talking at the same time and when unexpected topics come up. He does not like surprises.

Mark has a tendency to talk ad infinitum about busses, down to the most minute of details. He has trouble reading people's reaction and often does not see that others don't share his passion.

"Magic Bus, Magic Bus, Magic Bus, Magic Bus
I want it, I want it, I want it...(You can't have it!)
Think how much you'll save...(You can't have it!)]
I want it, I want it, I want it, I want it ... (You can't have it!)" -- The Who

Once Sophie and Daniel learn about their father's Asperger's, they pitch in with their mother to work out ways around it. They post a calendar of schedules and talk about possible outcomes, such as why one might be late. They suggest that he retreat to his study with the bus models when he gets overwhelmed. Their most successful suggestion was to have their visiting aunt, uncle and cousins rent an adjacent cottage at a popular resort the family enjoys every year. In times past, Mark spoiled many would-be positive outings by going ballistic when his toddler niece, nephew and their dog ran and played noisily. Having separate cottages allowed both families to enjoy themselves.

The importance of "me-time" was included. Each character explained that they enjoyed doing individual things, such as Daniel had football, Sophie her CDs and their mother Spanish dancing with her friend. They had times where they could do their thing.

This is one of the best books about an adult character with Asperger's that I have ever encountered. It is an ideal teaching tool and it takes the stigma out of autism and provides the voice of tolerance instead.

*An aside: there is a George Harrison connection in this story that Beatle fans will immediately get. Mark's sister-in-law is named Louise and George was the son and brother of women named Louise. Mark is a bus conductor and George Harrison's father, Harold Sr. was a bus conductor/driver/bus union man for some 30 years. The name "Hargreaves" came up and that is an old family name on the Harrison side of George Harrison's family tree. George's father was Harold Hargreaves Harrison. Rabid, inveterate Beatle fans and Beatle fans on the spectrum will most likely pick up on this right away.

The Who's 1965 (recorded in 1965, released in 1968) classic "Magic Bus" is the soundtrack of this story.

The Mockingbirds
The Mockingbirds
by Daisy Whitney
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars Listen to the Mockingbirds - They Mean Business!, 2 Dec. 2010
This review is from: The Mockingbirds (Hardcover)
"Instant Karma's gonna get you, gonna look you right in the face. Better get yourself together darling, and join the human race." -- John Lennon from "Instant Karma," 1970

This book is a work of pure genius and each of the characters and the raw feelings described in this book feel very real. It's a wonderful in-your-face kind of book. Daisy Whitney is a genius. It's as simple as that.

The story is set in 2007 (the date March 12 is given as being a Monday), yet January 10, the night Alex was date raped was given as being a Saturday. In 2007, January 10 was a Wednesday. A minor thing.)

Alex, 17 is a gifted pianist and high achieving student at the prestigious Connecticut Themis Acadamey. Her sister Casey, 20 attended the school. The story opens with a bang. Alex goes to a concert with some dorm friends, drinks too much and wakes up in the room of a boy named Carter, whom she doesn't know very well. It becomes apparent to Alex that the boy had nonconsensual sex with her twice during the time she was inebriated. Alex has to confront the traumatic realization that she has been date-raped.

She leaves the boy's room and prays she makes it back to her dorm without anybody seeing her. Unfortunately a few students do see her and jump to conclusions about her disheveled appearance and point of departure. Alex tries to hide in her own room, but her kind and very persistent classmates T.S. and Maia won't stop hounding her until she tells them what really transpired in Carter's room.

T.S. has a very smart, savvy and kind boyfriend named Sandeep who verifies that he saw Alex drinking at that concert. A brilliant student with a flair for mathematics, Sandeep points out that at roughly 110 pounds, the amount of alcohol he saw Alex consume would put her over the legal consumption limit. He estimated her intake to be about 0.8, which he said in her case was enough to knock her out for hours.

"Who on earth do you think you are? A superstar?" -- John Lennon, from "Instant Karma," 1970

Carter is on the boys' water polo team at Themis Academy. He and his sidekick Kevin Ward and a few of their satellites snicker and make rude comments to and about Alex. Carter goes around telling other boys that she "begged for it" and that he was all to happy to "give it to her." Carter was, in my eyes a thoroughly disgusting and reprehensible character.

Luckily Alex has really good friends who stand by her. Her roommate Maia, a brilliant student with extraordinary reasoning skills rushes to her defense. A skilled debater, Maia will no doubt make a wonderful attorney one day. Sandeep's friend Martin, an aspiring ornithologist takes an interest in her that segues into a dating and romantic relationship. A kind, perceptive young man, Martin takes her under his wing. His Mockingbird wing.

His interest in ornithology includes Mockingbirds, a secret student society dedicated to bringing honor and justice to Themis Academy, where the emphasis is on high academic performance and presenting and maintaining a pristine image. Dark covert cruelties have taken place at Themis, including other forms of violence. Students feel there is no real recourse or protection at Themis. The only way to get expelled is to flunk out and nobody is held accountable for their behavior. The Mockingbirds, an honor system group that Alex' sister Casey started there during her senior year is ready to step up to the plate for her.

The Mockingbirds are an incredibly well run and well organized justice system. They base their actions on a Code of Conduct & Honor. Their name came from Harper Lee's classic book, "To Kill a Mockingbird." Passages from the book are taken and passed along in a cryptic code form. The Mockingbirds are a several-tiered justice system that hears both sides of each case brought before them and ensures fairness. They are a very advanced system and a Godsend to those who need them.

They do clever things such as leave things on the trees, just as Lee's character Boo Radley left little gifts in a knothole for his neighbor Atticus Finch's chidren, Scout and Jem. An astute lawyer, Atticus Finch says that it is a sin to kill a mockingbird, a gentle bird that harms no one. The Mockingbirds use this as their motto.

Alex and Martin begin dating and she is initially unaware that he is a Mockingbird. She also did not know that her own sister started the Mockingbirds after a traumatic incident with devastating repercussions. The Themis way is to sweep everything under the rug. Goodness forbid anything should mar their ideal image!

Themis is an unusually permissive school where teachers and students often act with impunity, such as when Alex' English teacher assigns her two Shakespearian plays with rap scenes to enact before her class. Paired with a loutish oaf named Henry who pulls her hair and hurts her during the attempted rape scene in one play. I just loved it when Alex gave her acting partner a well placed kick with her knee. It served him right, after he told her she deserved what she got and for being rough and violent with her during the scene. What was that teacher thinking!

I was glad that Alex realized that Carter was the one who was wrong. He took advantage of her when she was in no condition to give consent. Carter broke a law and twisted the story so as to make himself look macho and to defame Alex. Like so many women who have been raped, Alex does not view going to the police as a viable option. She has the natural feelings of guilt and shame and avoids eating in the cafeteria and makes an effort to avoid Carter at all costs.

She was fortunate to have the Mockingbirds. How I wish such a group had existed during my campus days! As much as I love the Mockingbirds, the way they somehow stayed below the radar and were able to get offenders to agree to abide by their rulings does seem quite too good to be true. Even so, I love it!

This book handles a very serious topic which is not talked about enough. Date rape is, unfortunately, not uncommon on campuses. Very often survivors of date rape feel they have no recourse. There have been some genuine horror stories. In fact, I have known people who have had similar experiences as Alex (only without alcohol) who were tricked, coerced and even threatened into nonconsenusal sex. I have known people who did exactly what Alex did, which was to avoid places where they might encounter their attacker(s) and to have people bring food to their rooms so as to avoid eating in the cafeteria. This excellent book was wonderful, in your face and so vivid readers feel as if they are at Themis as well.

I loved the rich character development and the story is riveting. In fact, this entire book is diamond sharp, precise and cutting edge. Despite Alex' trauma, it was nice to see her enter into a healthy and loving relationship. Her friend and music partner Jones, who stands by her side is just delightful. I love his resourcefulness and the way he had her back and got her acting partner to take his medicine.

Daisy Whitney is an author to watch for and I am already looking forward to her next book. I highly recommend this one and have suggested it to people.

John Lennon's 1970 classic "Instant Karma" and his 1971 classic "Crippled Inside" are the soundtracks to this book.

Unlocked: A Love Story
Unlocked: A Love Story
by Karen Kingsbury
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Let God's Love Open the Door, 30 Nov. 2010
This review is from: Unlocked: A Love Story (Paperback)
"Let my love open the door to your heart." -- Pete Townshend, 1980

"Make new friends and keep the old. One is silver and the other's gold." -- Old Children's Rhyme

"You can worry your life away with
Not knowing what each new day may bring to you
Or take each day as it goes on
Wake up to the love that flows on, around you." -- George Harrison, 1979 from "If You Believe"

Karen Kingsbury is a genius. She really is. She writes from the heart and from a Christian perspective. This book is a testament of how love and inspiration can truly bless and enrich a person's life.

Holden Harris, 18 has the dual challenges of having the gruesome name of Holden and having autism. This story, however is much broader than that of Holden and his problems with peers, bullying and difficulty in learning the Tacit Social Codes & Rules. He outwardly appears to be cheerfully oblivious to his peers' taunting, but don't be deceived by outward appearances. The boy feels very deeply, but has difficulty in knowing how to express himself in ways others will find acceptable.

"If you believe - if you believe in you
Everything you thought is possible, if you believe . . .
If you believe in me . . .
All your love's reflected back to you
When you believe." -- George Harrison

"Unlocked" also describes in real, palpably painful detail the sorrow the boy's mother feels at not knowing how to help her son. He is described as having hit all the developmental milestones with normal limits until he was a year and a half old. At that time, he became nonverbal and more inclined to pursue solitary interests as opposed to responding to people. His sensory sensitivities had become heightened and he resisted touch. This sadly threw up barriers between himself and the people in his environment.

Kingsbury explores how severe special needs can take a toll on a marriage. In today's world, the deleterious effects bullying has on kids is finally being given just attention. To make a bad thing even worse, in recent years a rash of suicides among young people have occurred because they could not withstand being hounded and harassed by bullies.

Holden is a very believable character with autism. Autism is a neurobiological condition that affects sensory processing and language/communication. It is as varied as there are individuals. This book makes it clear that autism is simply a condition and that people who have it need compassion, as do we all.

"Too many troubles you can't control
To get you falling into the holes they dig for you
Get up - you have all your needs; Pray
Give up - and it all recedes away from you.
If you believe - if you believe in you." -- George Harrison

Luckily, compassion does come to this boy in the form of Ella Reynolds, a pretty and popular girl who is in the forefront of the social groups. She is a cheerleader and member of the school's acting classes and is dating an equally popular boy named Jake. She and Jake have a falling out when she can no longer stand the way Jake and his cronies hound Holden. In getting to know her new friend, Ella discovers that she and he were friends all along! They knew each other more than a decade earlier and have only just now recrossed paths.

"Everything you thought is possible, if you believe . . .
If you believe in me . . .
All your love's reflected back to you
When you believe." -- George Harrison

This book shows just how compassion crosses all borders, barriers and boundaries and how, love can open the door to one's heart. An excellent set of questions follows the story. Reading the questions and thinking of how one would answer them will reinforce the importance of this book.

Pete Townshend's stellar classic "Let My Love Open the Door" and George Harrison's stellar gem "If You Believe" are the sound tracks to this book.

Saving Max
Saving Max
by Antoinette van Heugten
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars We've Got to Get Out of This Place!, 20 Nov. 2010
This review is from: Saving Max (Paperback)
"We've got to get out of this place/If it's the last thing we ever do." -- Eric Burdon & the Animals, 1965

Danielle Parkman, high-powered attorney and single mother of 16-year-old Max has many major concerns. Max, a gifted boy with Asperger's has a history of erratic behavior including threats of suicide and lashing out at people who have crossed him. His poor social skills and drug abuse have caused him to be expelled from more than one school and Danielle has him in therapy.

Danielle's fears for her son skyrocket when she reads his diary and brings it to his psychiatrist's office. Once Max is confronted with this latest piece of evidence, he attacks Danielle. The doctor recommends that Max be admitted to the Maitland Psychiatric Asylum in the small town of Plano, Iowa.

Naturally Max does not want to go, but after many tearful entreaties from Danielle reluctantly agrees. Shortly after Max' admission, they meet others with children about to serve sentences in Maitland. (The term "Asylum" hearkens to a bygone generation). Once Max is processed, staff inform Danielle that her son is schizophrenic and rapidly decompensating. She is told not to visit her son. Fortunately, she disobeys this edict.

The staff seem especially sinister and the more roadblocks that are thrown up Danielle's way, the more resourceful she is in working around them.

Shortly after Max' sentence commences, he is charged with the murder of another inmate. The other boy is cognitively delayed, diagnosed with infantile autism and has a history of self-abuse. Staff keeps insisting that Max had a high level of animosity towards this boy and when Max is found in the boy's room after the boy was savagely attacked, Max is the chief suspect. He is arrested and tried as an adult in the State of Iowa.

The questions that arise are many. Since Max and the other inmates are highly medicated and many are restrained nightly, how could he get loose to enter the other boy's room? And why were the security cameras off when Max was found in the boy's room? How did Danielle arrive on the scene just in time to find Max with the murdered inmate? What kind of medications are Max and the others being given?

Luckily, Danielle has allies that come in the most unlikely places. She will stop at nothing to clear her son, even risking a jail sentence in the process. A brilliant, resourceful person, Danielle's search for the truth take her on a cross-country odessy stopping at.....the answers she seeks.

A taut, psychological thriller, "Saving Max" will keep readers on edge waiting to get to the crescendoing conclusion. A highly recommended book.

Wildthorn is a good companion book to this one.

The Complete "Fat Flush" Program: Three-Book Bundle (Gittleman)
The Complete "Fat Flush" Program: Three-Book Bundle (Gittleman)
by Ann Louise Gittleman
Edition: Paperback
Price: £42.67

5.0 out of 5 stars Raising My Glass, 13 Nov. 2010
I am raising my glass to Dr. Gittleman for her Fat Flush Plan (FFP) books and regime. Thanks to FFP, I am enjoying better health and increased engergy.

One key ingredient to ANY successful regime and lifestyle change is variety. Many of the older programs had people eating fish at least five meals out of a week. That would get old fast and people would sadly regain what they had lost. Varying one's meals and trying new things staves off old ways and old eating patterns. You don't get sick of the meals Dr. Gittleman includes in her plans and you can vary your meals as you go along. For example, if you don't care for a certain fruit, you can replace it with another on the list. If you are following her Boot Camp (which worked for me) with the FF shakes in the morning, try using different types of fruit. You can even do two, e.g. a 1/2 C of strawberries and a 1/2 C raspberries. Dr. Oz and Dr. Andrew Weil have touted the health benefits of raspberries for years. In fact, in October of 2010, Dr. Oz recommended raspberries and outlined their health properties. If you like acai, you might want to go to your health food store and use that with your shakes. Acai is delicious!

The bottom line is that if you work with the program, barring any other health issues, it will work with and for you. March in time to the Boot Camp and march the pounds and inches off. Move up the ranks to the meal planners and you will be marching to a new drummer and a new attitude!

Looking Back: A Chronicle of Growing Up Old in the Sixties
Looking Back: A Chronicle of Growing Up Old in the Sixties
by Joyce Maynard
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Insider's View of the Sixties, 12 Nov. 2010
Joyce Maynard is a gifted writer and this talent is reflected in this work. This has been one of my favorite books for many years.

She juxtaposes prominent events of the Sixties with her own developmental milestones and personal observations. Her descriptions of her home town in New Hampshire and the businesses and history, e.g. using all 7 digits for local calls as opposed to only dialing 4 add a touch of Americana and a sense of history. Her rich descriptions of people in the community and the town's history also make this a very effective work.

I found the way she wrote of herself very interesting and ironic. A veteran reporter from an early age, Maynard, when writing of herself appears to take a somewhat impersonal tone for the most part. This "impersonal" voice when speaking of oneself and chronicling developmental points in their lives contrasts with the rich descriptions of other people and events that were taking place. Maynard's discussion of then-popular TV shows and the prevailing attitudes toward same offer yet another view of the Sixties; her synopses of certain shows and the conclusions she later drew paint a vivid picture of the era in very bold strokes, much like an anthropologist or sociologist studying the customs, mores and folkways of an era.

This is an outstanding book and I highly recommend it.

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