Life, Animated: A Story of Sidekicks, Heroes, and Autism
Life, Animated: A Story of Sidekicks, Heroes, and Autism (Hardcover)
Imagine being trapped inside a Disney movie and having to learn about life mostly from animated characters dancing across a screen of color. A fantasy? A nightmare? This is the real-life story of Owen Suskind, the son of the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ron Suskind and his wife, Cornelia. An autistic boy who couldn't speak for years, Owen memorized dozens of Disney movies, turned them into a language to express love and loss, kinship, brotherhood.The family was forced to become animated characters, communicating with him in Disney dialogue and song; until they all emerge, together, revealing how, in darkness, we all literally need stories to survive.
About the Author
RonSuskind isthe author of four New York Times bestsellers and the criticallyacclaimed, A Hope in the Unseen: An American Odyssey from the Inner City tothe Ivy League. His other books include, Confidence Men, The Way of theWorld, The One Percent Doctrine and The Price of Loyalty. He was the senior national affairs writer for The Wall Street Journal,where he won the Pulitzer Prize, and is currently the Senior Fellow atHarvard's Center for Ethics. He lives in Cambridge, Mass., with his wife,Cornelia Kennedy.
Praise for Life, Animated: A Story of Sidekicks, Heroes, and Autism…
A deeply felt, movingly written account of raising an autistic son. As a best-selling author and Pulitzer Prizeâ??winning journalist, Suskind has earned his renown with deeply reported, big-picture stories of domestic policies (Confidence Men, 2011) and international affairs (The Way of the World, 2008). His latest is more tightly focused and intimate in tone, as it deals with two decades of struggles and triumphs of a family trying to do whatever is best for their younger son, Owen, who has somehow been able to make emotional connections through Disney movies that so many with autism never can. The investigative reporter in Suskind might be a little suspicious of a book that depends so heavily on Disney products, and includes visits with its actors and animators and is published through a Disney imprint, even as he insists that Disney "agreed to exert no influence whatsoever over the content of this book." It details the experience of having a seemingly normal toddler who "vanished" into what was subsequently diagnosed as autism. Early on, they figure, "[i]t's just a matter of reaching him, of figuring out what caused this storm to envelop him, so we can clear away the clouds and let the light back in." Nothing was that simple, of course, as frustration at the inadequacies of educational options and conflicting therapeutic strategies, at expenses that run toward $100,000 per year, set in. Disney proved to be the way in, as Owen deeply identified with the sidekicks and misfits of the videos he watched repeatedly, memorized whole scripts and began drawing; he now wants to become an animator. Owen's obsession has aided his emotional and intellectual development, as he made friends, graduated from high school and enjoyed his first kiss as much as the next romantic teenager. The Disney effect may be distinctive to this experience, but the family dynamic should resonate with a much wider readership. A master journalistic storyteller tells his family's own story.—Kirkus, Starred Review
"Mr. Suskind displays virtuosity in capturing the intimate realities of life in a household dominated by autism, where the disorder shapes the life of every family member."—Judith Warner, The New York Times
"Life, Animated is the author's amazing memoir of his family's 20-year, struggle to connect with their autistic son. This is the book that readers who have no one in their lives affected by autism and who would otherwise never it pick up should definitely read. Eyes will tear. Hearts will cheer. In these pages, Owen is every reader's son."—Don Oldenburg, USA Today
"Ron Suskind's "Life, Animated" is an extraordinary saga of an exceptional boy from a remarkable family and their compelling journey through autism."—David Royko, Chicago Tribune
The book by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ron Suskind is a fierce love story. It is also one of those fascinating medical stories that show doctors have no monopoly on knowledge.—Mark Johnson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Reading Suskind's factual yet moving account of the devotion, love and energy put into helping Owen will leave readers wondering if they could do the same. This is a wonderful book, whether or not you know a person with autism.—Amanda St. Amand, St. Louis Post Dispatch