Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Anti-Romantic Child by Priscilla Gilman

The Anti-Romantic Child: A Story of Unexpected Joy
Author: Priscilla Gilman
Publisher: HarperCollins
Published: April 19, 2011
Source: won a copy from Goodreads.com

My Rating: 3.5 stars

Synopsis (from borders.com): With an emotionally resonant combination of memoir and literature, Wordsworth scholar Priscilla Gilman recounts the challenges of raising a son with hyperlexia, a developmental disorder neurologically counterpoint to dyslexia. Gilman explores the complexities of our hopes and expectations for our children and ourselves. With luminous prose and a searing, personal story evocative of "A Year of Magical Thinking" and "A Year of Reading Proust," Gilman's "The Anti-Romantic Child "is an unforgettable exploration of what happens when we lean to embrace the unexpected.

My Thoughts: While I am not a mother, nor do I plan to be one anytime soon, I found this book to be incredibly fascinating and Priscilla Gilman to be a beautiful writer. Gilman tells the story of her college studies and how she fell in love with Wordsworth, a poet who romanticizes childhood and innocence. When she discovers that she is first pregnant, she dreams of having this "Wordsworth-ian" child but is sadly disappointed when Benjamin arrives. He doesn't want to be held, doesn't want human interaction, just wants to be left alone. Gilman is worried that something is wrong with her child, but when he starts reading just after his first birthday, this English scholar is overjoyed. Believing him to be a  genius of some kind, she delights in his reading books and being able to spell words at such a young age. But when the search of nursery schools begins, teachers realize that there is something wrong with Benj and recommend Gilman take him for testing. This is where she discovers that he has hyperlexia, and her world is turned upside down.

Gilman tells her story beautifully with writing that grips you and makes you feel for her as a mother. Once again, I have no children of my own, but I could feel her dispair as a mother when Benj didn't want to be held, and her anguish at realizing that he isn't gifted, but has a disability. Gilman pulls you into her world of researching, learning, and adapting her life around Benj's hyperlexia. It is a story of adapting, one of a mother's struggle to give up the dream that she had for her child and to find the joy in her current situation. My only real complaint about the book is that the ending was rushed, and Gilman was hurrying to tie everything up in a nice little bow for the reader. The rest of the book was paced just right, but the ending left something to be desired.

For expectant mothers, mom's, teachers, this is a great book. Even if you don't fall into one of these categories, I would recommend picking up this wonderful book and learning about how parents cope when their children don't always meet their expectations.

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