Sunday, June 1, 2014
Book Review: Life, Animated by Ron Suskind
Author: Ron Suskind
Enjoyment Rating: ****
Content Alert: I don't remember anything objectionable
Owen Suskind was almost three years old when he stopped talking. Soon after that, he was diagnosed with autism, and his parents Cornelia and Ron (a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist) threw themselves into helping Owen through schools and therapies. But it was the films of Walt Disney that eventually started to bring Owen out, after several years of barely speaking at all. At first, he just repeated lines from the movies, but gradually, it became evident that he was internalizing emotional truths from the films, which prepared him to meet some of the challenges in life that his parents feared he might never be capable of tackling.
I think any reader would root for Owen and his family, especially since Suskind writes about his family's experience so movingly. But as the mother of a child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder, I felt like the book showed that it is possible to engage and draw kids out, and that what works for some kids might not work for others. I also love that Owen appears to be living a happy and fulfilled young adulthood. It's a feel-good story that any reader would appreciate.