Last night I had the pleasure of taking my mom to a “Meet the Author” event at a local library where we ran into a friend who was also there with her mother! Both of us have children on the autism spectrum and were there to hear Eli Gottlieb talk about his just released book, Best Boy.
Best Boy is written from the voice of Todd, a 50-something autistic man who lives in a group facility and has since he was eleven. He misses his mother (these have been emotional points for me so far) and just wants to go home. Both of his parents are gone and his brother who lives far away has responsibility for his care. Todd is straightforward, loves the encyclopedia, and likes routine.
This book has received rave reviews and it was released last week. Eli read two chapters from the book and then opened the floor for questions. Here are a few of the things I found interesting…
*his older brother is autistic and Eli is his guardian. While the character of Todd was high functioning, his brother is not and he does not consider this a memoir. He doesn’t even want to say it’s an accurate representation of autism (and a passionate parent asked), instead he sees it as a sympathetic work that is an emotional journey for the reader.
*when asked if he resented his brother growing up he responded with, “how could you not? he absorbed all the oxygen in the room.” He was brokenhearted and angry and writing was his outlet. This was the part that my friend and I talked about afterward. She was sitting there, a mother of three, listening to the reality of sibling angst and I was sitting there wondering who is going to be looking out for my guy when I’m gone. There is no perfect answer and Eli didn’t attempt to give one.
*this took 3 1/2 years to write although the voice was there for as long as he could remember. It left him psychologically exhausted to live inside Todd’s head for that long. When asked about how he writes he said that he is disorganized with no blueprint or notes and he is in the dark, linking one sentence to the next until an arc emerges.
*His brother, who inspired the character of Todd, will be featured in a New York Times op-ed this week or next.
Okay, so my friend sent me an ARC of the book that I’ve been carrying around in my purse for at least a week (I’m halfway through) and I had Eli sign it tonight to give to one of you!
Sound good? All you need to do is tell me you want it in a comment. Please include an email address so that I can easily reach you if you win. Open internationally.
It would be cool if you included how autism has touched your life, if at all.
I’ll draw a winner in 2 weeks, the week of September 14th.