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).