What Color is Monday? How Autism Changed One Family for the Better
As the Cariello family faces challenges and fears, readers find wisdom and inspiration in the ingenious love that never gives up. This is a family you'll hold to your heart long after you've turned the book's last page. --Mary Johnson, author of An Unquenchable … see full wiki
My (grown-up) nephew is autistic, so a book subtitled “How autism changed one family for the better” has to intrigue me, especially because the subtitle doesn’t say “How one family changed their autistic child for the better.” When a sibling asks if his brother will always be autistic, his mother, author Carrie Cariello, says yes. It’s not an illness that goes away with treatment. It’s not a paper diagnosis and plan of attack. It/He/Jack is a child, with personality and character all his own.
The biggest joy of Carrie Cariello’s book is the character of her autistic son. Readily agreeing that not all autistic children are alike, she describes a boy with certain (sometimes uncertain) problems and curious (sometimes embarrassing) mannerisms. She includes humor as she tells of Jack’s inappropriate outbursts, honesty as she points out her own mistakes and others’, and above all patience and empathy. I see my nephew in many of Jack’s characteristics, but not in all. I see my sister-in-law in many of the author’s stories, but not in all. And I see a real child guided through a world that’s unaccountably strange, striving to learn those things we “normals” take for granted while his siblings learn that he really isn’t normal, but he’s one of them—wise lessons in tolerance and in seeing what really matters.
Of course, none of us are completely normal. Author Carrie Cariello readily admits the presence of those “autistic tendencies” most of us would claim. When she describes her son’s difficulty in a particular situation, another mother might say “My child is like that.” But another child isn’t like Jack, as that scary step between awkward and autistic becomes readily apparent. The writing moves forward and back through Jack’s life—not a chronological progress, but a set of stepping stones in different directions—Jack in school; Jack making his First Communion; Jack in a restaurant; his fear of animals and his trip to the zoo… The effect feels much like sitting down to chat with another mother while a child watches over her shoulder—a beautiful, slightly different child, with oddly unpredictable reactions, prone to asking strange questions like “What color is Monday?” or to demanding you tell him if your mother’s dead yet. I haven’t really met Carrie Cariello, but I think I’d like her. I think I’d like meeting Jack as well. He’d remind me of my nephew and I’d feel a bit sad, because he’ll never not be autistic, but I’d like him just the same for who he is, autism and all.
I’d recommend this book to anyone with family or friends dealing with autism, and to anyone who wonders how they’d react to a child rushing forward, pointing fingers and demanding to know what type of car they drive and what color it is. The world might be a gentler place if we could all respond with kindness and care.
Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book and was asked for my review as part of the author’s promotional tour.
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