Note about my Reviews

Dear Authors: The reviews in this blog are only personal opinions. I have absolutely no background in literature, writing or reviewing. I am a Librarian (actually a Library Technician for those who care OR know the difference) with a love for a good story. The opinions in the reviews are ONLY my OPINIONS. I am not commenting on the writers ability since well -- I am not a writer and never will be. If you are the author of any of the books reviewed here, my opinion is just that and not a judgment against you!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Anti-Romantic Child by Priscilla Gilman: Book Review

The Anti-Romantic Child: A Story of Unexpected Joy
by Priscilla Gilman:
ISBN: 978-0-06-169027-3
Release: April 19, 2011
Buy From Indigo

Description: Priscilla Gilman experienced childhood as a whirlwind of imagination and creative play. Later, as a student and a scholar of Wordsworth, she embraced the poet's romantic view of childrenand eagerly anticipated her own son's birth, certain that he, too, would come trailing clouds of glory. Though extraordinary, Benjamin showed signs of a developmental dis-order that would require intensive therapies and special school-ing, altering the course Priscilla had imagined for her family.

In The Anti-Romantic Child, an incredible synthesis of memoir and literature, Gilman explores the complexity of our hopes for our families and ourselves. Using Wordsworth's poetry as a touchstone, she describes her journey through crisis to a place of peace and resilience. Gilman illuminates the flourishing of life that occurs when we embrace the unexpected, and shows how events and situations often perceived as setbacks can actually enrich us.

The Good Stuff

  • Beautifully writes about raising a child that has special needs and so wonderfully explains the need to let go of the dream of your child and love the child you have.  
  • Very painfully honest and real, she doesn't hide from her emotions and doesn't put blame on anyone
  • Her relationship with her ex-husband is one that I truly believe benefits her children -- now if more divorces couples would follow her path
  • She's a strong women who wouldn't take no for an answer and wants the best for her child
  • Benji sounds like a truly remarkable and wonderful child and I enjoyed reading about him
  • Loves both of her sons and fights like a tiger for them
  • Full text of all the poems quoted at the back of the book
  • Very inspirational at times
The Not so Good Stuff
  • Way too scholarly and romantic for my non scholarly mind which I really think takes away from the lessons taught in the book.  But please remember I am more of a plain spoken practical girl
  • Got irritated by the constant references to Wordsworth (yes I know that is the point of the book, but it really got on my nerves after a while)
  • I was having a tough time reading this and I couldn't put my finger on why I wasn't enjoying it.  I think it has a lot to do with the fact, that I am also raising a special needs child and I think things hit a little too close to home and to some of the issues I am denying or avoiding 
  • I found her a tad self absorbed at times  (Now no offense to author that is just how it comes across at times)
Favorite Quotes/Passages

"Anytime you get frustrated or irritated with him, try to remember how far he's come rather than how far you still want or need him to go. It helps. It helped us."

"That literature has the power to comfort and sustain might seem obvious, but as a professional scholar of literature, I had been made to feel that literature was there to be analyzed, debated or worked on, not to be turned to for consolation, solace or inspiration."

"My goal as a mother is to never stop fighting that battle for Benji's essential self and to teach him how to fight it on his own behalf."

What I Learned
  • That I really am not the biggest fan of poetry -- unless its The Highway Man or The Creamation of Sam McGee
  • Fascinating information about Hyperlexia
Who should/shouldn't read
  • Best for those who enjoy a more scholarly account of living with a special needs child
  • Would recommend it for anyone raising a child that has special needs because author does eloquently express the need to let go of the child you wanted and to love and accept the one you have
  • Obviously parents with children who have Hyperlexia will find tons of helpful and insightful information
3.5 Dewey's

I received this book from HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review


  1. I agree with both of your "good stuff" and "not so good stuff" ~ She is a wonderful author and mother. However, when you stated "I was having a tough time reading this and couldnt put my finger on why", I do not believe it is a question of you denying or avoiding any issues. I, too, am a mother of an Autistic/non-verbal young man. When I began to read the book, I got to page 7 and thought to myself "this isnt the real world", at least where most parents of autistic, disabled children come from. Most of us were not surrounded by literature, wealth, etc., and I believe right there is where we begin to have a hard time relating to the book. Most of us do not have memories of vacationing in summer cottages and trips to Spain. Instead of literature and poetry coming to our minds, we tend to think thing such as "okay, it is 2 a.m., I am wiping the walls where my autistic son decided to "play" with his "body functions", I am crying in the bucket of water, school districts are not being helpful, finances are being stretched to their breaking point, etc..." So, I do not believe you are denying anything regarding your emotions. It is a beautifully written book. It just does not "cater" to most regular people in the world. Once again, my opinion as well.

  2. Thanks! Nicely written & that totally makes sense to me as wasnt raised in that sort of privileged world either