Thank you! So I’m posting tomorrow’s assignment, and then the rest of them.
How many books about Autism are there on your shelf?
Temple Grandin’s books are quite basic. You’ve probably heard of “the horse boy”, and maybe about “it’s very sad to be autistic”.
But this time I want to write about another book.
It’s called Following Ezra. It’s relatively new, and was published in the US in 2011. As far as I know, there’s no Hebrew translation. But it’s a book I like a lot.
The author, Tom Fields-Meyer, is writing about 10 years of his family’s life, since his son Ezra was diagnosed with Autism at the age of 3.
What’s special about this book
There are many special stories. “The horse boy” really wins in this category. The story of the trip to Mongolia, the journey while horseback riding, the meetings with the shamans… Need I add more? It’s an amazing, inspiring story, that definitely brought me to tears many times.
But I had one problem with it: accessibility. It’s true that everything is possible. It’s true that you can leave everything and go to Mongolia. It’s all true. But how many parents can really leave everything behind and head off to Mongolia with their child?
And this is where “Following Ezra” comes in. It’s a story that anyone who’s close to a child on the spectrum can identify with. The stories are daily, ‘normal’, in the regular fields- kindergarten, community, school, barber shop, stores. And it makes the book so accessible- right from the picture on the cover. So familiar…
It’s a book you can learn so much from, about the simple daily life with a child on the spectrum.
Similarities between “The Horse Boy” and “Following Ezra”
Tom Fields-Meyer and Rupert Isaacson both write for a living. They both understand the power of the written word, and they both describe their journey with great tenderness.
Following Ezra is far from being plain and factual. It’s a multi-dimensional story, full of depth and emotions. It writes about the hardships, and the beautiful moments, the desperation, and the progress. All these moments that every parent of a child on the spectrum goes through.
There are many ways to tell a story.
Rupert Isaacson chose to tell the story chronologically- from the beginning onward. Nothing acts better to describe a journey.
But Tom Fields-Meyer chose to tell it differently. He took 10 years and divided them into chapters, when each chapter describes another topic. The diagnosis, communication difficulties, anxieties, the love of animals, obsessions, growing up, and more.
In each chapter he jumps between different points in time to draw a complete picture from his memory. He tells us where they started, what they’ve been through, where they are today, what they still need to go through.
Every point in time has its own meaning. Sometimes it’s a description of a short conversation, sometimes a description of a time. But he collects those experiences with great sensitivity, seeing the thread that connects them and gives them meaning.
Wait a minute, if his name is Ezra…
You guessed it. Tom Fields-Meyer is Jewish, and his wife Shawn is even a Rabbi. Their kids names are Ami, Ezra and Noam, and they call their parents “abba” and “ima” [Hebrew for dad, mom]. They live in Los Angeles, and even spent a year in Israel, while Shawn was during her rabbinical studies.
Following Ezra is full of Jewish references- to holidays and sayings. But above all- stands the closing chapter that is dedicated to Ezra’s Bar Mitzvah. This specific chapter brought me back to the preparations for my younger brother’s Bar Mitzvah. I felt I was experiencing it again through the book.
I think every parent to a child on the spectrum can relate to this book, but those references bring it even closer to us.
It’s a story about a father who decided not to mourn.
Not to let waves of grief wash him away, but let love flood him. It wasn’t always easy. There were tough moments, and frustrating ones. But there were also moments full of humor, and moments full of awe.
The magic of this book is in its simplicity. There’s no journey to Mongolia, no mysterious healing. There’s just a family, which goes through whatever every family with an autistic child goes through. But-
The real story, and what Tom asks to share with other parents, lies, I believe, in his approach.
This caring, loving, open-to-the-unexpected outlook.
An honest approach- smiling sometimes, excited sometimes, searching for meaning.
An approach that lets Ezra lead, and learns his way.
Helps him find his unique way in the world.
A magical book, wholeheartedly recommended.
What about you?
Do you have any other books to recommend? We would all be happy to read about them in the comments.
I couldn’t get rid of all passive sentences- still have 2 left (according to the Hemingway app):
[the book] was published
Ezra was diagnosed
I think they aren’t so bad- that’s just how it’s always said. The object is the subject in those cases.
My words per sentence are now 11.3. Couldn’t get much lower. Other stats improved as well:
Passive Sentences: 4% (not sure why… Hemingway only recognized 2 sentences).
Flesch Reading Ease: 67.4
Flesch Kincaid Grade Level: 6.6