Being the parent of a child with Autism is no easy task. To those of you doing it every day this is not new news. I’ve read so many books by the experts about everything from causes to best practices, but never have I been so struck by a book as I was when I read The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer.
Let me backtrack just a little. I am in a book club that I love. After so many years of being part of this, several of the members know my favorite style of book. So when one of the members makes a recommendation to me, I am pretty likely to take it because they are usually right that I will get absorbed in the book. That happened recently when my friend Lily gave me The Things We Cannot Say. I didn’t read a thing about it, just cracked it open and of course was enticed as soon as I read the prologue.
Putting it into words
As I nestled into my couch though, it was the first chapter that really got my attention. One of the main characters (Alice) is describing a melt down episode in a grocery store that occurred because her autistic son was upset about the change to the Go-Gurt labels. The description of the scene is so realistic. It is better than anything I have ever read from the “professionals”. I almost started looking around my living room to see if I was on hidden camera.
Alice explains that her son pretty much eats two foods. Go-Gurt and Campbells pumpkin soup tins. Alice says (as her son is melting down about the new Go-Gurt label) that “if Campbell’s ever changes the label of their pumpkin soup tins, she is going to curl up into a little ball and give up on life.” Now to someone who doesn’t even notice when their favorite anything changes their label or logo, this may seem like the silliest thing you have ever read. But to someone like me, who gets the eyebrow everytime I say “Legos” instead of “Lego Bricks”, this sentence of the book speaks miles and miles to me.
This book is not about Autism. It’s really a love story about a woman who’s dying and wants to go back and trace her history from WWII in Poland. But then again, the book is about Autism, because the mom, Alice, has to make so many of her decisions based on her autistic son. It’s just so darn fascinating and so spot on. I looked up Kelly Rimmer and she does share that she got help from a friend who is a special education teacher.
I won’t give any of the story away I promise, but you should know, this book does an amazing job of showing how parents need to help each other out, but also push each other just a little bit. Alice has such a strict schedule and is so regimented (we get it, sanity is important) that when her husband tries to do just one thing differently with their autistic son, she freaks out. As morals of the story go though, she comes to learn that her son is so much more than she realized, thanks in large part to her husband.
So if you like fictional stories about love, WWII and family, I give this book a 5 star review and highly recommend you check it out.