"Executed with a trace more sentiment, a fraction less ironic intelligence, a degree less fine observation, this book would be unbearable. But somewhere within himself Isaacson has found the rigour to keep in balance his mysticism, his hope and love for his son, and his sheer infuriation at the outrageous misfortune of Rowan’s condition. The result is an elegant, affecting narrative that contrives to transform a riverside poo -- Rowan’s first controlled bowel movement -- into a triumph of the human spirit."
"This is a fascinating book. It is the tale of a family's journey to Mongolia with their five-year-old son who has autism. The family travels to the northern remote areas and lives with the nomads and herders away from the cities. I loved the descriptions of the nomad way of life, and that they were so accepting of a child with autism. Rowan loved baby animals and the people did not mind when he grabbed a baby goat and climbed into one of their beds with it. During the trip, Rowan developed improved language and behavior. He also had a magical connection with horses. There are many wonderful passages about Rowan’s exploits with a Mongolian horse named Blackie. This is a great book and everyone who is interested in autism, animals or different cultures should read it.
(Dr. Temple Grandin, author of the bestselling books Thinking in Pictures, My
Life With Autism, and Animals in Translation)
"A colorful real-life adventure with inspiring results."
"In this intense, polished account, the parents of an autistic boy trek to the Mongolian steppes to consult shamans in a last-ditch effort to alter his unraveling behavior.... Isaacson records heartening improvement in Rowan's firestormlike tantrums and incontinence, as he taps into an ancient, valuable form of spirit healing."
"Rupert Isaacson has conjured a non-fiction journey that reads like an epic novel. It is a book of endless amazements. The world of Mongolian shamans, the details of adventuresome travel, the mysterious world of autism--all are all amazing. Soon, you realize that the world of horses is mysterious, too--and, yes, amazing. By the time you are in the grip of this book, you'll see love, marriage, and parenthood as a realm of magic, profound power, and further amazements. The Horse Boy can change the way you see your life, and it's a terrifically good read at the same time. It feels like a classic."
(Luis Alberto Urrea, author of The Hummingbird's Daughter and The Devil's Highway)
"Breathtaking atmosphere, solid prose and stunning cultural observations"
Isaacson's journey to heal his son is just that, a healing, not a cure. But he wouldn't want it any other way. While the author's purpose was to draw Rowan out of his autism, he came to realize the overlooked gifts it entails. The Horse Boy will leave readers with a new appreciation for autism and the healing techniques of other cultures; like Rowan, they, too, will be changed forever.
"The Horse Boy is a must read for anyone with an interest in children with autism. It is one of those rare books on autism that is interesting, well written and keeps you turning the pages to learn more… I can't put it down, and it has been about three years since I have honestly been able to say that about any book."
"If you are a parent of a child with autism, if you are an educator, a psychologist or a therapist whose work involves autistic children, this book will astound you. It is honest, bold, touching and radical....It suggests that autistics may be gifted in some way, and not in need of a total cure, just a re-patterning of their most socially unacceptable behavior. It suggests something like a miracle, but a miracle wrought of extreme effort and great love."
"Any good travel memoir needs both internal and external journey, and "The Horse Boy" delivers. Will Rowan's outbursts dissipate? Will they find the shamans of the Dukha? Will Kristin forgive Rupert for dragging them on his meshuga idea of a family vacation? Rooting for Rowan through all this -- a "brave little sausage" who leaves no Mongolian baby animal unsnuggled -- makes "The Horse Boy" an unexpected page turner."
(Cleveland Plain Dealer)
"I have read many travel books about the East; the combination of the exotic and the spiritual is catnip for me. I've never read one remotely like this. Easy to figure out why: The stakes seem higher here --- not just personal salvation but the future of a child. You may not have to deal with autism. But the moral of the story is universal. When you're confronted with a problem that blights your life, don't just accept it. Do something. If it fails, do something else. And never, never, never give up."
"The Horse Boy is a wonderful book that encourages families affected by autism to dare to dream of a better quality of life, even when things seem hopeless. We are thrilled to be working with Rupert and Little, Brown to help raise awareness of autism through this family's story, and we hope it will inspire other families to find their own children's unique paths to happiness."
(Lee Grossman, Autism Society of America President and CEO)
"Isaacson's expansive memoir traces his trip to the remote Mongolian steppe with his wife and autistic son, whose behavior begins to improve through encounters with horses, herders, and shamans. Candid and warm, Isaacson's narration feels like an epic tale told by an old friend."
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