It matters little whether you must know, need to know or simply want to know, IN A DIFFERENT KEY, The Story of Autism ( Crown Publishing 2016) is a remarkably well written and absorbing narrative of autism. John Donvan and Caren Zucker miss little in brilliantly telling the autism story in a fashion that is uniquely understandable for the layman. It is rare that such a complicated, medical and scientific iteration can be accomplished in a compelling story that reads as a page turning work of non-fiction.
This is a book of real people, ordinary families that face progress, reversals both good and tragic outcomes. There are heroes and heroines. The work also sheds light on the darker side of mental illness. Even in light of epic personal tragedy, IN A DIFFERENT KEY remains hopeful.
Understanding of autism has evolved in light years since the early 20th Century. The “refrigerator mom ” has been debunked. You will read about the remarkable Temple Grandin. The 1988 Academy Award winning movie Rain Man starring Dustin Hoffman that did much to bring autism into the realm of greater empathy and general knowledge. But even the movie had no happy Hollywood ending. There were no miracles and there still are none. When Rain Man ends Raymond still has autism. Quoting IN A DIFFERENT KEY, It was an ending that spoke a real truth about autism, one that resonated for parents and people with autism: that autism is for always.
A review copy of IN A DIFFERENT KEY, The Story of Autism was provided to me by Blogging for Books.
John Donvan and Caren Zucker are journalists for ABC News.