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The Spark: A Mother's Story of Nurturing Genius | [Kristine Barnett]

The Spark: A Mother's Story of Nurturing Genius

Kristine Barnett’s son Jacob has an IQ higher than Einstein’s, a photographic memory, and he taught himself calculus in two weeks. At 9 he started working on an original theory in astrophysics that experts believe may someday put him in line for a Nobel Prize, and at age 12 he became a paid researcher in quantum physics. But the story of Kristine’s journey with Jake is all the more remarkable because his extraordinary mind was almost lost to autism. At age 2, when Jake was diagnosed, Kristine was told he might never be able to tie his own shoes.
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Publisher's Summary

Kristine Barnett’s son Jacob has an IQ higher than Einstein’s, a photographic memory, and he taught himself calculus in two weeks. At 9 he started working on an original theory in astrophysics that experts believe may someday put him in line for a Nobel Prize, and at age 12 he became a paid researcher in quantum physics. But the story of Kristine’s journey with Jake is all the more remarkable because his extraordinary mind was almost lost to autism. At age 2, when Jake was diagnosed, Kristine was told he might never be able to tie his own shoes.

The Spark is a remarkable memoir of mother and son. Surrounded by "experts" at home and in special ed who tried to focus on Jake’s most basic skills and curtail his distracting interests - moving shadows on the wall, stars, plaid patterns on sofa fabric - Jake made no progress, withdrew more and more into his own world, and eventually stopped talking completely. Kristine knew in her heart that she had to make a change. Against the advice of her husband, Michael, and the developmental specialists, Kristine followed her instincts, pulled Jake out of special ed, and began preparing him for mainstream kindergarten on her own.

Relying on the insights she developed at the daycare center she runs out of the garage in her home, Kristine resolved to follow Jacob’s "spark" - his passionate interests. Why concentrate on what he couldn’t do? Why not focus on what he could? This basic philosophy, along with her belief in the power of ordinary childhood experiences (softball, picnics, s’mores around the campfire) and the importance of play, helped Kristine overcome huge odds.

The Barnetts were not wealthy people, and in addition to financial hardship, Kristine herself faced serious health issues. But through hard work and determination on behalf of Jake and his two younger brothers, as well as an undying faith in their community, friends, and family, Kristine and Michael prevailed. The results were beyond anything anyone could have imagined.

Dramatic, inspiring, and transformative, The Spark is about the power of love and courage in the face of overwhelming obstacles, and the dazzling possibilities that can occur when we learn how to tap the true potential that lies within every child, and in all of us.

©2013 Kristine Barnett (P)2013 Random House Audio

What the Critics Say

"The Spark is about the transformative power of unconditional love. If you have a child who’s ‘different’ - and who doesn’t? - you won’t be able to put it down." (Sylvia Nasar, author of A Beautiful Mind and Grand Pursuit)

"The Spark describes in glowing terms the profound intensity with which a mother can love her child." (Andrew Solomon, author of The Noonday Demon and Far from the Tree)

"Every parent and teacher should read this fabulous book!" (Temple Grandin, author of Thinking in Pictures and co-author of The Autistic Brain)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.5 (75 )
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  •  
    E. Pearson Idaho 02-05-15
    E. Pearson Idaho 02-05-15 Member Since 2008

    Occasional Thinker

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Is It Okay to Like a Story, but Hate the Writing?"

    All the reviews I read elsewhere barred me out: masses of readers LOVED this story and could find no fault in it. They raved about the wisdom and enthusiasm and wonders of a mother who "discovered" that her autistic child was, in fact, a genius and helped him attain great feats. Quite a few HATED this story: they thought it was a lie, or an exercise in boasting and appeal for fame. I disagreed with all.

    My reading of the book fluctuated between astonishment, excitement, doubt, boredom, and a wish that the amazing mother would have found a capable ghost writer. I personally concluded that the story is largely accurate, and that the accomplishments and admiral insights of a dedicated mother and child motivator are mostly legitimate. In reaction to the writing itself, I felt that her plethora of unwarranted adverbs stretch otherwise interesting events into the frayed fragility of an overstretched elastic, and that her repeated description of tragic hardships is delivered with mind-numbing heaviness. Crowning this tone is the narrator's monotonous, martyr-like voice, and the author's inability to bring important characters--such as Jake--to life. in other words, we readers are allowed to "see" nothing occur, but only be told, and told, and told a long series of events. I wanted this book to end long before it did, though I waded on in honor of the truths available.

    There is a great deal of intellectual insight to be discussed--by those with merit--concerning the overall message of the author's book and the danger and hope available in examining the wisdom in some of the author's decisions as applied to autistic persons worldwide.

    There were many events that had potential brilliance in their telling. I wish I could have found more of them.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Vera 01-02-14
    Vera 01-02-14
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    "Wonderful inspiring story for anyone"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Spark: A Mother's Story of Nurturing Genius to be better than the print version?

    This book is so inspiring, Jake's mother, the voice of the book, is so kind it just makes you want to do more & see others in a new light. So happy I read it. The narrator is great, the story is well written & everything else about the book is just wonderful. I recommend it very much.


    What did you like best about this story?

    relatable yet still interesting


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The mother making such a connection with her son & listening to what he needed by dancing with the fire flies.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    sharon san diego, california, United States 10-17-13
    sharon san diego, california, United States 10-17-13 Member Since 2013

    love to read and love audio books!Favorite authors: Marcia Willett,Nevil Shute,Mary Stewart,and Jacqueline Winspear. I could go on and on but wont bore you! I belong to a book group and we often" Listen" to the books we have selected for the month while using a paper copy for the discussion notes. It really enhances the quality of the story.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "What an Inspiring Story"

    Well written true story of a Genius .The narration is perfect. We used this book for out Book Club. Every body loved it .A Winner

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dr Vancouver, BC, Canada 08-05-13
    Dr Vancouver, BC, Canada 08-05-13 Member Since 2011
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    "Interesting but Very Self-Serving"
    What did you like best about The Spark: A Mother's Story of Nurturing Genius? What did you like least?

    The Spark was an interesting revelation of what the mind of an autistic child is capable of, and the need to reach them at their own level. I had several problems with it, mostly that I became very fed up with this woman's apparently bottomless capacity for self-congratulation. The book also risks giving parents of autistic children the impression that if they only try harder, their child can become a prodigy too. I did not finish the book, as after a while it provided no new information, just endless self-promotion.


    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    elan Kailua, HI 96734 03-22-15
    elan Kailua, HI 96734 03-22-15 Member Since 2013

    Say something about yourself!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    ""An incredible story - insight into finding genius"
    What did you love best about The Spark: A Mother's Story of Nurturing Genius?

    one of the most amazing stories i have ever read out of tens of thousands of books and audiobooks. I sent the link to this book to thousands of mom's I know. The story of this mom's commitment to find her son's genius zone and practical grounding was literally amazing. the revelations of success and discovery are astounding.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Spark: A Mother's Story of Nurturing Genius?

    Transformation and joy


    What does Kathe Mazur bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    The fact that it sounded like a mom recounting her authentic personal story rather than an actor


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    YES and I did...


    Any additional comments?

    It changed my life. I focus on this field of human potential and the dynamics of peak performance and transformation but this was a life changing book and a life changing paradigm.

    Thank you for your commitment to the potential of this Soul named Jacob and your never ending reservoir of care and insight ..you made this story possible.. it is beyond magical it is a life changer.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Schalk Klee 03-17-15
    Schalk Klee 03-17-15
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    "You will not learn much!"
    Would you try another book from Kristine Barnett and/or Kathe Mazur?

    This book is focused on how well she did and how great her son really is. Look somewhere else if you want to learn anything about helping your child.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tyson 02-22-15
    Tyson 02-22-15 Member Since 2015
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    "A must listen"

    This is an inspiration to any parent (me being one) to any parent with a child who suffers with a disability. This is a book about pure love and shows how you do anything for you children.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    joe 02-10-15
    joe 02-10-15 Member Since 2015
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    "my son.."

    my son was diagnosed at the age of 2.. he is non verbal.. and also has SPD ( sensory processing disorder) he is now 3 and only communicates with basic sign language. .he also go to a speech and occupational therapy almost everyday of the week.. what this mom did with the daycare and the way she approached the children and "playing to there strengths" gives me hope that one day I to will have a conversation with my son , and will be able to realize his full potential. . this book is such a motivating story ..

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christa Sudbury, Ontario, Canada 10-11-13
    Christa Sudbury, Ontario, Canada 10-11-13 Member Since 2013
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    "Simply amazing!"
    What made the experience of listening to The Spark: A Mother's Story of Nurturing Genius the most enjoyable?

    This book just kept blowing me away over and over again. I couldn't put it down!


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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