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Review: Bad Animals

December 10, 2011

Bad Animals
Bad Animals by Joel Yanofsky
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this book written by the father of a son diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.
Joel is honest about his love, his angst, his sense of being in over his head in dealing with the demands of being the parent of a special needs child. He whines, sure, but he owns his whining.
In the book he is writing with his son he names the father character Worst-Daddy-Ever. But he is not the worst daddy ever, he is just a human being dealing with a tough situation and seeking an outlet for his worries and frustrations. In a moving moment his son rebels against the Worst-Daddy-Ever name, showing a very deep love for his father in his own way.
We’ve made some progress understanding and dealing with the autism spectrum in the last few decades, although really it hasn’t provided much in terms of answers or solutions. Joel’s book reflects that well, since he is a book reviewer by trade, and takes the time to let us know how he feels about the very well-known auto/biographies about autism that have been written in the last 40 years or so.
Joel himself admits that if you are looking for encouragement and a path to succeeding as a parent of a special needs child this is not the book. He’s not touchy-feely, nor overjoyed by the “gift of being choosen”. He’s sad, angry, and worried. He mourns what they lost when the diagnosis was rendered; but he loves his son very much.
You’ll love his son after reading this book as well. Because really, that’s what this book is about. The love of a father for his son, no matter what challenges they’ll have to face.
I’m not sure even Joel knew that’s what he was writing at the time. And that’s what makes it so authentic.

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