- Written by: Judy Mollen Walters
- Published by: Self published, February 10, 2015
- Length: 263 pages
- Source: Author
Summary: When Genevieve Sterner gets the call in New Jersey that her parents have been killed in a car crash, she must inform her siblings. But it’s not as simple as picking up a phone.
She emails her identical twin sister, Eleanor, who lives far away in Hawaii, because she doesn’t have her phone number.
She can’t even do that with Carson, her nonverbal autistic brother who has never said a word. So she goes to his day care program, and still, when she tells him, she has no idea if he understands.
When Eleanor arrives in New Jersey to help plan the funeral, she hasn’t seen her family in three years. She brings with her secrets that must be exposed.
And Carson understands everything, but without means to communicate, he can’t let anyone know what he thinks or feels. So he grunts, screeches, and clenches his fists in frustration, living inside his head, trying to make sense of his world.
The Place To Say Goodbye is the story of three very different siblings, hope, love, loss, and the bonds that hold them together.
My Thoughts: Suddenly forced to become the caregivers for their adult autistic brother, twin sisters Genevieve and Eleanor must come together again in a united front. While mourning their parent’s sudden death each sister is also working through their own memories of growing up with Carson. They recall the sacrifices their parents made, that they all made for Carson. Their parents had been his biggest advocate, working tirelessly to get him into the right schools and therapies, and eventually a group home as he became too difficult to handle in their own home.
The sisters have a wedge in their own relationship, Eleanor left after college and never returned home, while Genevieve stayed close, still living with her parents. Eleanor became and author and Genevieve an educator. There are other surprises and secrets they’ve kept from one another.
What I found most interesting is the “voice” that Walters has given the non-verbal Carson. His thoughts and feelings are all inside his head, his confusion and his desires, and we, the reader, are privy to those thoughts. It’s heartbreaking to read what he feels, how he wants to communicate but can’t. Imagine the internal voice of autism and it grips you, implores you to have compassion.
The biggest takeaway from this book is that autism doesn’t just affect one individual, but the entire family. The long term challenges are felt by both the sisters, how they were raised, how it impacted their adult life, how they see their brother now, and what they want most for him.
This is a beautiful and yet difficult book to read. Walters holds nothing in, it is a brutally honest portrayal of a young man struggling with autism. I highly recommend this book.
Today April 2, 2015 is Autism Awareness Day and Walters will be donating $1 from the sale of each paperback or Kindle version of her book purchased today to Autism Speaks.
Disclosure: Judy is long time friend of mine, and she sent me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This did not impact my review.