2012 Finalist


Joel Yanofsky

Bad Animals: A Father's Accidental Education in Autism

Bad Animals: A Fatherby Joel Yanofsky

In Bad Animals Joel Yanofsky offers a uniquely skeptical, darkly humorous and original take on autism. Forced to abandon fantasies of one kind of father-son future upon learning of his son's diagnosis, Yanofsky describes himself casting about in a panicky, pessimistic fog, urgently seeking treatments that will permit his beloved Jonah to succeed against dire predictions of a future marked by uncertainty and unfulfilled promise. It's an unflinchingly honest and intimate self and family portrait that paints the author's wife Cynthia (in part through her own italicized interjections), as patient and mature, and the innocently exuberant Jonah as delightful and exasperating by turns. This very personal memoir is immeasurably enriched by Yanofsky's incisive snapshot reviews of other significant books written about children 'on the spectrum', and by the cultural resources - from Dr. Seuss to Shakespeare and the Rolling Stones - that he employs to engage, cajole and connect with his son. Boasting hilarity and insight in equal measure, Bad Animals transcends its genre and speaks poignantly to the challenges inherent in all human relationships.

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