About Me

Ithaca, New York
MWF, now officially 42, loves long walks on the beach and laughing with friends ... oh, wait. By day, I'm a mid-level university administrator reluctant to be more specific on a public forum. Nights and weekends, though, I'm a homebody with strong nerdist leanings. I'm never happier than when I'm chatting around the fire, playing board games, cooking up some pasta, and/or road-tripping with my family and friends. I studied psychology and then labor economics in school, and I work in higher education. From time to time I get smug, obsessive, or just plain boring about some combination of these topics, especially when inequality, parenting, or consumer culture are involved. You have been warned.

Monday, March 7, 2011

#21: With the Light, Vol. 2

With the Light: Raising an Autistic Child, Vol. 2, by Keiko Tobe (New York: Yen Press, 2008)

"Sachiko and Masato Azuma have overcome numerous obstacles in dealing with their firstborn son Hikaru's autism. Having saved their marriage from ending in ruins, the young couple has welcomed a healthy baby girl, Kanon, into their tight-knit family. But with the obvious differences between Hikaru's and Kanon's developmental abilities, it becomes apparent that social prejudices against Hikaru's disability are never far away. As Hikaru moves into fourth grade, Sachiko encounters a new student, Miyu, whose mother has completely given up on her daughter's life, and her own. With the help of Hikaru's beloved teacher, Aoki-sensei, Sachiko aims to bring hope back to Miyu's family. But when Aoki-sensei transfers to a different school and Hikaru's special education class is thrown into upheaval by yet another tragedy, can Sachiko continue to hold onto her own hope for her son's future?"

Opening Line:
"In a corner of the room filled with the orange light of the sunset, Hikaru is looking at a Hina doll."

My Take:
Vol. 2 picks up where Vol. 1 left off, and remains about as compelling. Here, the Azumas delight in seeing their healthy baby daughter, Kanon, grow alongside big brother Hikaru ... squabbling, of course, as siblings will, but for the most part, loving and learning together. Change is inevitable, though, and (if you didn't know it before, you'll remember from Vol. 1) is always really tough on folks with autism. Here, if the marriage and resulting transfer of Hikaru's beloved teacher, Aoki-sensei, wasn't bad enough, the school's stellar principal suddenly disappears, and the special ed class is assigned to the badly burned-out, near-to-retirement Gunji-sensei. Despite the protests of the Azumas, Miyu's mother, and several others, their cherished school becomes nearly unrecognizable. Add in the inevitable missing-kid and bullying problems that all parents must confront, colored by the challenges unique to Hikaru's autism, and we've got ourselves another fine story.

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