Adam, nine and diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, wanders into the woods outside his schoolyard with a new friend, Amelia, who is ten and diagnosed with pervasive developmental disorder.  Worried parents and teachers wait until the police discover Amelia's body with a stab wound and retrieve Adam unharmed.  Adam, unable to communicate very directly with anyone, inadvertently provides key clues to solve the mystery, which involves an old friend of his mother's, confined to a wheelchair since an accident he suffered in elementary school.   In the course of recovering from the trauma the whole community is changed, and Adam finds a new friend who will very likely be able to cross bridges into his world and accompany him on his mysterious journey for a long time to come.


Told from Adam's mother's point of view, the story develops not only the murder mystery plot, but, more significantly, engages readers in rich reflection on both the inner life of an autistic child and the family life shaped by his disorder.  The author's own experience of raising a child with autism clearly shapes her empathetic, respectful, sharply nuanced portrayal of both Adam and his mother, Cara. Cara's point of view is foregrounded throughout the story, and her own history of caregiving dates back to the care she provided an injured classmate in fifth grade. This incident in her young life helped to prepare her for what she must learn to do as a single mother with a child who is capable of strong connection but generally unable to express emotional attachment or even to maintain eye contact.  A worthwhile read for anyone interested in the personal and social effects of autism. 


Penguin Books

Place Published

New York



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