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Living Through Charlie Paperback – February 9, 2012

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 252 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (February 9, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1466357371
  • ISBN-13: 978-1466357372
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.2 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,338,129 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Kirkus Reviews

The hypercompetitive rituals and other inanities of elite suburban preschools get a merciless but droll dissection in Woods' debut novel.

Meg Norton, stay-at-home mom of two, strives to shoehorn her son Charlie into a prestigious preschool even though she knows he isn't ready for the transition. The decision to keep him home isn't hers to make: In her affluent Southern California community, interview tutors for kindergarten admission and waiting lists for preschool are as ordinary as a PB&J. Moreover, her husband, Chuck, and wealthy father-in-law attended the Norwich School, which they continue to financially support as alumni. But Charlie's "interview" isn't a success-he throws a tantrum over his shoes-and he's turned down by Norwich administrators. In fact, it takes little for Charlie to have a meltdown; bunchy socks, the wrong drinking cup, even humming can trigger tears and screams. Meg's endless problems with her son spill into other areas of her life-isolating himself with work, Chuck seems to hold her responsible for Charlie's oddities; the other moms at play dates and art classes make her feel outcast; even her best friend Dana seems to have transformed into the kind of "A-list mom" they previously mocked. After Charlie gets into Norwich on his third attempt, Meg's troubles multiply and turn far more serious. She must acknowledge one secret in order to reveal another that will change her son's life and her own. Woods crafts classroom and backyard scenes into keen, sly takes on the world the Norton family inhabits. Meg makes an ideal medium for this tale. A perpetual outsider, she skewers with delightful off-beat humor all that comes her way-bridal-themed birthday parties, kindergarten graduation ceremonies and school drop-off etiquette. What saves her from sanctimony is that she's too smart to be unaware of her own complicity and her desperate desire to fit into a world she loathes. She's astute enough to finally admit, too, that the distance between her problem child and herself may be less than she thinks: "We both have things to learn."

An irreverent but stylish critique of a privileged social milieu --Kirkus Reviews (starred review)


"In Living Through Charlie, Rebecca Woods has tapped into the experience of having a not so perfect child in an oh-so-perfect world. She writes with deftness and knowledge of the pressure mothers feel raising a child on the autism spectrum. There is humor and humility on every page."-Lian Dolan, author of Helen of Pasadena

"Living Through Charlie might not represent every family dealing with autism, but it does cover a lot of common ground, and the story both acts as a support for those families and gives other families an inside look, with the hopes of promoting awareness and compassion...Author Rebecca Woods tells the story with a healthy dose of humor and with a very human approach.  It's at times witty and other times sweet, and always very real." - Cara Batema, Editor,

"Rebecca Woods offers a modern-day comedy of manners with a familiar story made special through her wit, compassion, and insight... The time I spent reading "Living with Charlie" flew by as I looked in on a family in chaos. Woods provides a whole new meaning to the word "cope," not with just an exceptional child, but with ourselves and the world we live in."- Eileen Granfors, Author/Blogger, Amazon "Vine Voice" Top 500 Reviewer

More About the Author

Rebecca Woods grew up in Orange County, California. She has a bachelor's degree in Drama and attended the UCLA Writer's Program, and Community of Writers at Squaw Valley. She was a drama teacher in "a posh private school" as well as a special education school. She is the mother of two fabulous girls who both challenge and inspire her daily. She lives in Southern California with her husband, her two mean little dogs, a parakeet, and three tortoises, and is working on her second novel.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Mary Brown on February 10, 2012
Format: Paperback
This is an entertaining novel that takes the reader to unexpected places. You think at first that it's a chick-lit look at an affluent suburban mom who is reluctantly enmeshed in the private school wars of her wealthy community, but Meg's life takes a couple of detours that force her to realign her priorities. There's something wrong with her kid - the reader sees it coming before she does. Once Meg realizes that Charlie's problems are very real, her own issues also rear their ugly heads. The writer imbues Meg's voice with a fun sarcasm that keeps self-pity at bay and keeps the reader engaged. This book will be appreciated by mothers with 'special' kids, anyone interested in the competitive world of private pre-schools and kindergartens - and anybody who enjoys a big dose of sardonic wit.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Cary E. on February 21, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I found this book to be funny, sweet, compelling, sad, familiar and real. Ms. Woods humor is found on almost every page and her descriptions are sprightly and wistful at once. I felt as if I recognized mothers, teachers, fathers, and sometimes myself in this wonderful book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Eileen Granfors TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 23, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Rebecca Woods presents us with a familiar story made special with her wit and insight. "Living through Charlie" is set in a Southern California community where getting a child into the "right" pre-school is everything. It's the family's reputation, the child's future, the mother's parenting that are on the line.

Unfortunately, for Meg, although her daughter Annie has always performed as a highly gifted child, Charlie is not simply non-verbal. He is attuned to routines, objects, and his own world of dinosaurs.

None of this sits well with his father, who blames Meg for babying the boy. The in-laws too judge her by the behavior of a four-year-old.

Things go from bad to worse for Meg and Charlie. Friendships fall apart, Meg begins speaking out about all the other moms, and the bullying against Charlie increases.

The time a reader spends reading "Living with Charlie" flies by as we watch a family in chaos learn what it means to cope, not with just an exceptional child, but with themselves and the world they live in.
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