Friday, January 11, 2013

Eye Contact, Cammie McGovern

America seems to have an obsession with autism at the moment.  Every time you turn around there is another  special news segment, heart-warming story, video of someone with savant abilities, or slightly goofy sit-com character that either explicitly or implicitly is identified as having autism.  And really, while the effects of autism can be devastating for those living with it and their caregivers, it is a pretty fascinating condition.  Autism brings up all of the things that we don't understand about the brain, and the ways in which a brain affected by autism works can be as intriguing as it is impenetrable.

In Eye Contact, Cammie McGovern uses autism as the framework for a murder mystery.  A young girl is killed when she wandered from the school playground.  The only witness to the crime is another student, a boy with autism named Adam.  He doesn't speak for says after the murder, but his mother Cara is sure that he knows what happened.  She begins to work with him on expressing what he saw, and in the process discovers that the murder may have connections to her own life that she never expected.

The story goes back and forth between the present-day mystery and Cara's past.  We discover her tumultuous relationship with her best friend, and the relationship that led to Adam's conception.  The mystery did keep me guessing, but what really kept me engaged was the relationship between Cara and Adam, and the very authentic descriptions of living with autism.  McGovern has a son with autism herself, and her intimate knowledge of caring for a child with special needs made the story feel very real.  I was not 100% satisfied with the resolution of the mystery itself, but not so dissatisfied that I was disappointed in the book.  Overall this was a good popcorn book for my Christmas vacation!

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