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review 2017-09-17 18:25
Best when the author actually talks about her son.
To Siri with Love: A Mother, Her Autisti... To Siri with Love: A Mother, Her Autistic Son, and the Kindness of Machines - Judith Newman

A viral column in The New York Times described how a mother (Newman) could use technology in her day to day life with her son, Gus. Gus has autism. The column was very readable (it was viral for a good week after it was published according to the author) and described how Gus could "talk" to Siri and ask Siri endless questions about his interests and according to the column it actually helped her son communicate better with humans. It was a fascinating read (and is available online) so when I heard the author was going to write a book expanding on the column I was very excited.

 

The book outlines life with Gus. From questions about what may have been contributing causes (which range from speculation about the 9/11 disaster site and the lingering health effects to Gus's dad's age at the time of his conception) to how she copes raising Gus and his neurotypical twin brother, Henry, her day to day life and what it's like.

 

Some of it was quite fascinating but the book never reaches to the genuine warmth and humor of the original column. Sometimes it's really amusing and other times it's very informative and interesting (and sometimes it's all of this). But quite often the author inserts too much of herself in the book. I realize that in some ways it IS very much her book about being a mom with an autistic son (as the cover states) but I just didn't care about her as much. The book is mis-titled (the Siri-related stuff does appear but it's not the premise of the book and it also seems to rehash much of the original NYT piece) and it's a pity because I'd really love to read more about Gus's relationship to Siri now and whether he interacts with other similar devices like Alexa or reading more in that similar vein.

 

 

One thing I'd note is that the author's note is a bit uncomfortable. Newman discusses language and "people first language" vs. (for example) autistic men/women, etc. and I thought that was helpful to read before diving in. But for some reason she feels the need to bring in transgender people and pronoun usage and complains "Language needs to evolve, but not into something ugly and imprecise." I respect that I don't have her experiences nor am I transgender but I found that I had to side-eye a bit after that.

 

There's value to the book and I'm sure a lot of people might find this of interest. Personally I found that once again a person who works in the media (newspapers in this case) doesn't always translate to being a good book writer. I could have stuck to the column. But I got this at the library and I'm glad it was available to borrow (rather than waiting for a paperback or for this to show up at a bargain bin).

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photo 2016-09-26 19:27
The Eagle Tree - Ned Hayes
 
By Keri Anne Griffithon September 25, 2016
 
As an autistic mother to an autistic child, a poet, and an environmental advocate, this book will be important to me for a long time. It moved me to tears. I laughed. And I was ravenously hooked in after a few chapters while whole-heartedly rooting for March and his family.

March is such a strong, determined, passionate young man. I really appreciated reading a story about an autistic protagonist who has depth, nuance, insight, intelligence, and dynamism. He was not dehumanized or belittled. I sensed authentic compassion between the lines of this book that never struck me as misplaced pity and instead struck me more as an attempt at genuine acceptance. The significant characters wanted to see March be his truest self while balancing the need to navigate with March the sometimes harsh realities of the neurotypical world to help March in achieving his own goals.

March and his family were easy to love and also imperfect people who had their own growing yet to do. I enjoyed learning more about the Pacific Northwest and our ecosystem, especially with March as my teacher and guide. I am grateful to have connected to an autistic protagonist whose impairments were significant, whose gifts were hard for him to share, and whose flapping and stimming were an ever present part of how he moved in time and space. Too many people do not yet know how very much autistic people have to offer the world. How excellent if this book chips away at that unfortunate ignorance. Diversity is key with forests and with human kind.

I hope one day to give this book to my son so that it might encourage him to follow his passions brazenly and so that it might serve as an emblem that growth is a constant and life is full of cycles.
Source: www.amazon.com/gp/customer-reviews/R3H9LW5UFM07IX/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_rvw_ttl?ie=UTF8&ASIN=B01BVD40HS
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photo 2016-09-08 10:39
cannon beach book company

Books on the Beach! Thanks to the Cannon Beach Book Company for stocking and hand-selling The Eagle Tree. #Eagletree #books@cannonbeachlife

Source: theeagletree.com
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text 2016-08-19 03:06
Book Review: The Eagle Tree
(Thanks to luvtoread for the thoughtful review)

 

Book Review: The Eagle Tree by Ned Hayes

 

TheEagleTreeCoverSynopsis: Set in Olympia, Washington, Peter “March” Wong is a fourteen-year-old autistic boy who lives with his mother. He loves trees and loves to climb them. He sees a giant Ponderosa Pine called The Eagle Tree and dreams of climbing it.

 

Review: This was an illuminating, but slow, read. I almost set it aside, but pushed through and I’m very glad that I read it, as I feel this is a book I will continue to think about.

 

The Eagle Tree by Ned Hayes is a very sweet book that I discovered by surfing Amazon one evening. I was drawn to the cover and the interesting sounding synopsis, and it was a very unique read.

 

Told entirely from the point of view of Peter “March” Wong, March is an autistic boy who loves to climb trees and learn about them. March is single-minded about the trees, and it was interesting to get inside his head and hear his perspective about other people and why he reacts in certain ways, and why he loves trees and climbing them.

 


“The Eagle Tree was like a lighthouse to me, a beacon of hope, a sign of great life that towers over everything. It drew me in, saying, Climb me, climb me. Trees like this keep me oriented in a storm of things I do not understand.”


 

Once I got over my panic at the thought of a fourteen-year-old boy climbing trees (and big trees!) constantly, most of the time without supervision, I was able to settle into the story.

Set in Olympia, Washington, the trees are all around, and are characters in their own way. Each tree is different, with different features, and March explains them all, which can be very dry at times. So dry, that I almost had to set the book aside. But I continued on because I wanted to know if March would ever climb his beloved Eagle Tree.

 

Once March spies the Eagle Tree, he fixates on being able to climb it, and must overcome obstacles to get close to his tree. Obstacles include his mother, his uncle, the fact that the tree is now on private property and is slated to be bulldozed for a new development, and the state potentially taking March away from his mother.

 

There is a lot of tree science in the book, and there is also a lot of talk about climate change (seriously – if you know someone who doesn’t believe global warming is real, this book might change their mind). Sometimes all of this science stuff just made my eyes glaze over, but other times it was fascinating, especially when it talked of various reasons the beetle populations are so large now and how that impacts trees, and also humans. It’s actually quite scary.

 


“What action can you take to influence the world? What can you do that doesn’t hurt you or the people around you? What can you do that takes all that powerful energy you have and does good in the world?”


 

There are several interesting characters in The Eagle Tree, from March’s hardworking and patient mother, Janet Wong, to March’s kind and understanding uncle, Mike Washington. There are also great characters I wanted to know more about: Maria Elliot, a Nisqually lady who works for the Environmental Defense Council in Olympia, and March’s classmates, Stig, and Sarah.

 

Since March is autistic, it was absolutely fascinating and illuminating to me to be able to see what goes through his mind. Reading how sounds and lights impact March and why he interacts with people the way he does was very insightful. The author, Ned Hayes, has worked with children on the autistic spectrum, and this shows in the writing. I thought this aspect of the book was very well done.

 

There was a part at the end of the book that I got very emotional over, because this book called to mind my great-grandfather, who was a logger and high climber in the PNW. Having just lost my grandfather, his son, this June, I really felt this book in a different way most readers would, as I’ve recently gone through a bunch of the old logging photos and I can understand the allure of climbing trees and how brave someone is who climbs them.

 


“Nature is God’s vast palette, and through it I believe that we can see fingerprints of grace everywhere we look.”


 

So because of my personal attachment to parts of the plot, and due to the fascinating insight into someone with autism, this is a book that will stay with me for a while, and will be one I continue to think about. This would be a good discussion book, but some may have a hard time getting through the drier sections.

 

Bottom Line: Wonderful insight into autism. Very dry in parts, but it has a lot of heart and spotlights timely issues.

 

Links to The Eagle Tree on   Amazon  and   Goodreads

 

Have you read The Eagle Tree? What are your thoughts? Do you know of any other books with autistic characters? Any other books that tackle global warming?

Source: luvtoread.com/2016/08/15/book-review-the-eagle-tree-by-ned-hayes
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photo 2016-07-20 09:29

New York Times bestselling author Steve Silberman on THE EAGLE TREE

"The Eagle Tree is a gorgeously written novel that features one of the most accurate, finely drawn and memorable autistic protagonists in literature. The hero of the book is like a 14-year-old Walt Whitman with autism, seeking communion with the ancient magnificent beings that tower over the landscape around Olympia, Washington. Ned Hayes plays with the conventions of the unreliable narrator so that you end up feeling like March is a very reliable narrator of glorious and terrifying aspects of the world that neurotypicals can’t see. Credible, authentic, powerful. A must-read.”

– Steve Silberman, author of NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity, winner of the Samuel Johnson Prize for non-fiction.

Source: theeagletree.com
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