For fans of TheCurious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime comes this landmark novel about autism, memory, and, ultimately, redemption.
Sent to a "therapeutic community" for autism at the age of 11, Todd Aaron, now in his '50s, is the "old fox" of Payton Living Center. A joyous man who rereads the encyclopedia compulsively, he is unnerved by the sudden arrivals of a menacing new staffer and a disruptive, brain-injured roommate. His equilibrium is further worsened by Martine, a one-eyed new resident who has romantic intentions and convinces him to go off his meds to feel "normal" again. Undone by these pressures, Todd attempts an escape to return "home" to his younger brother and to a childhood that now inhabits only his dreams.
Written astonishingly in the first-person voice of an autistic, adult man, Best Boy - with its unforgettable portraits of Todd's beloved mother, whose sweet voice still sings from the grave, and a staffer named Raykene, who says that Todd reflects the beauty of God's creation - is a piercing, achingly funny, finally shattering novel no listener can ever forget.
©2015 Eli Gottlieb (P)2015 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Besides incessant listening to audiobooks, I also read on my Kindle at night, birdwatch, garden (roses, daylilies), and do genealogy.
This is a well-written, well-narrated book that shows us the sad, unfortunate reality of a life lived on the Autism spectrum. It is a somewhat uneventful study of a man in his 50's who has been in residential care since the age of 11. He has continued to mourn his reality and wants desperately to back to where he grew up. His only contact with the outer world is his younger brother who visits him regularly but infrequently.
I am not new to autism/fiction, having read a bunch of other books that I really enjoyed. There was something missing for me in this story, however, and I am reluctant and embarrassed to admit it just may be the utter reality and truth of this story. It was a bit depressing with not much of a reward for me all the way through to the end and with almost no humor along the way. Real life--there you have it.
As this book IS fiction, I am wanting a bit more than the day to day sadness of life in lived in residential care. However, if you have a loved one in such a facility or with such a mental condition, this book will be quite an eye opener for you and could be a very memorable read.
If you loved this book and are looking for more, or if you wished it could have been a little more lighthearted, I have a few other books by different authors to recommend. I really loved 600 Hours of Edward and its sequel, also The Eagle Tree, and then, Marcelo In The Real World (a bit more YA-oriented but still enjoyable.) Three different authors, three different takes on the subject. All of these books dealt with Aspergers/Autistic spectrum young men who had more positive experiences in overcoming some of their longstanding problems. I found these characters more endearing, more fun. (Probably not as realistic as Todd Aaron in Best Boy and all not in residential care, like Todd.)
This is definitely worth reading if the subject interests you. Go for it!
SciFi/Fantasy and Classics to History, Adventure and Memoirs to Social Commentary—I love and listen to it all!
This is a really good book... if you haven't listened to "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time." It's hard not to draw a comparison between the two, but the latter truly captured the voice of a person on the spectrum while this rather... mimics? it. It also has a few things that seem to be lifted from it, as in: Todd goes off on a journey by himself and has to deal with the "real" world for a bit.
But if we're judging the book on its own merits? Good story about a man who yearns for love and to belong, a man who has to have things just so lest he be subjected to the "volts" from his own brain and soul. A man who, because he feels longing for a woman, a girlfriend (a troubled, troubled individual named Martine who is used to flaunting the rules of whatever institution she's in), will go off his meds just to make that connection.
This also does a brilliant job of med depictions: They're necessary, but boy, at what a cost!
One of the weakest points, and I feel bad for saying this because I think Bronson Pinchot is one of the most talented narrators there is, is the narration. I suggest listening at x1.25 speed because, even then, Todd's "voice" is so slow and halting that one thinks that he has intellectual delays when he doesn't. What merits the 4-star narration is that Pinchot does a truly, truly remarkable job with bringing every single character to life, with their own identities, their own wants, their needs and dislikes. The man rocks.
There are a few twists, and a turn at the end that make this a worthwhile listen... very much so!
I just wouldn't spend an entire credit on it...
Reader and Writer from Colorado Springs carefully disguised as a financial advisor all these years. Who knows what lies below a snowy rooftop?
Sensitive and delicately written, beautifully performed
A window into the autistic mind. Humanizing.
Also exciting, with a tense plot point that unfolds in the middle of the book.
You got to love Todd, The 50 something hero of the book, who has been institutionalized for his disorder since he was 10 years old. Surrounded by people, good and bad, he wanders through life almost silently with a rich interior dialogue that reveals a perceiving intellectual mind beneath the complex brain disorder that has been so misunderstood throughout his life.
Great read. Don't miss it!
Bronson Pinchot reads this book as if he were Todd... and everyone else as well. I am going to look for more books he has read.
I do not know where Eli Gottlieb gets his information but reading this book, as a "normal" person (or at least, mostly so) this seems like a look into the world of Todd, an adult man who is high functioning but on the autism spectrum. His use of language seems totally authentic. He is a sympathetic character- very likable.
Retired CFO, Army wife, Mom of five, Grandma of six, two sons who served in combat, love to read books that reflect my values and faith, love mysteries, historical, military stories, and books that don't waste my time . . . if it doesn't have an ending that was worth the wait, I'm not a happy camper.
As the mother of a grown daughter with autism, this story caught and held my attention throughout . . . in a world that is cruel and hateful, full of individuals that deem themselves higher than others, this tale of Todd, one boy, so different than the rest, yet with a unique beauty and innocence that few ever chose to recognize, reveals so much of what is wrong with our society today . . . and maybe always has been . . . of great interest to me was Todd's relationship with Raykene, his one on one staff member, who was always supportive and able to calm him . . . also how Todd knew immediately that "Mike the Apron" was to be feared . . . it is uncanny how the instincts of people with autism are heightened . . . and just how "on target" they are . . . and parents who truly love their special kids learn their "triggers", what calms them, and to trust what their child is telling them through their actions and facial expressions . . . and they learn the purest form of love ever . . . and a trust that knows no bounds . . . my favorite part of the story is when Todd finally gets to visit his childhood home . . . this book is a treasure . . . enjoy it . . . and if you've never had the experience of loving and being loved by a person with autism or special needs, you are missing out . . . the world does NOT revolve around you . . . it is so much bigger than that . . .
I have a sister with Special Needs and any story about this topic tugs at my heart strings. This story is amazing. The narrator drew me in so much that the characters seemed very real and not just part of a story. It also gave me insight into this particular diagnosis.
Great "listen". Will wait a few months and listen again.
I just finished this book. I found the writing good, the story ok and liked the inside view of Todd's autism and detailed ways of thinking. I found my self always waiting for something big to happen and nothing does or wanting to know more about his past or childhood and only got a couple short glimpses lacking detail. Lots of promise but falls short.
I thought the narrator did a fabulous job of creating the 'flat/monotone' sound of an autistic person's affect. The writing itself was sometimes beautifully lyrical. Todd's way of looking at the world was expressed in an easy-to-see way--that is what good writing is all about IMO. My problem was with the story itself. Lots of potential build-up but very little actually 'happens.' SPOILER Alert: for example: he runs away for two days and nothing happens or he keeps a 'weapon' but never uses it or he is interested in a girl (but aside from getting him to stop taking meds) nothing happens or a creeper forcibly befriends him and nothing happens to Todd never really resolves his own fear of him. No growth. Autism does not mean the character couldn't show growth--especially to someone like Todd. The story sort of plods along from one stream of consciousness to another. And the wiki-definition about autism was a bit preachy. I would give it 3.5 stars. The storytelling/narration was the best part for me.
I am overwhelmed at how I feel after reading (listening to) this book. I could relate to the way the author and narrator "saw their thoughts" - I followed right through the descriptions and felt the same way "as the journey took me there".
I guess that since my "read" before this, was Ekhart Tolle and a passage is mentioned (in that read) regarding differentiating between conscienceness and ego, stating (something like) "I am the one who sees my thoughts" as being that of conscienceness" - my mindset was ripe and ready for the effect that this book had on me.
Coming onto my retirement immediately (June 2016) - I was aware of my very first volunteer "urge" - wanting to have an autistic friend - thinking that I might be able to relate on some level. Which reminds me of another quote from that book (quoting 14th century poet Hafez) "I am a hole in a flute that Christ's breath moves through - listen to this music."
After listening to this in Audible, I cannot imagine that it would have been quite the same if I had read the book in my "alone head" without the diction and expressiveness of Bronson Pinchot. I almost feel that I know both Bronson and Eli. Wonderful gifts.
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