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Eye Contact Hardcover – June 1, 2006

4.1 out of 5 stars 74 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A parent's worst nightmare becomes a crusade for justice in McGovern's dynamite second novel (after 2002's The Art of Seeing), set in an unspecified middle-class suburban community. Shortly after Adam, a nine-year-old boy with autism spectrum disorder, and his friend Amelia, a 10-year-old diagnosed with PDD-NOS (pervasive developmental disorder—not otherwise specified), disappear during recess from Greenwood elementary school, a traumatized Adam turns up next to Amelia's body in the nearby woods. Cara, Adam's 30-year-old single mom, helps the police unlock the clues in Adam's mind to try to identify Amelia's killer. Cara finds surprising assistance from 13-year-old Morgan, who's determined to solve the crime in order to distract authorities from his own guilty secret—accidentally starting a fire in the wetlands his lawyer/environmentalist mom was trying to protect. Meticulously researched and emotionally absorbing, this provocative page-turner also addresses an important issue—how to educate and care for children with special needs. Film rights optioned by Julia Roberts. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

McGovern's follow-up to The Art of Seeing (2002), centers on a nine-year-old autistic boy, Adam, who witnesses the murder of a classmate. Disturbed by what he saw, Adam retreats into himself, frustrating the police and worrying his mother, Cara, who has watched Adam's development with a nervous eye since he was diagnosed with autism. Cara is fearful of the effect the murder will have on her son, but she's also surprised to find the investigation dredging up her own past: the officer assigned to the case is the younger brother of her former best friend, whom she hasn't spoken to in almost a decade. And another old friend, who might just be Adam's father, has come back into her life. Tightly woven and gripping, this literary mystery takes several unexpected twists and turns as it builds to the resolution. Kristine Huntley
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult; First Printing edition (June 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670037656
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670037650
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (74 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,427,729 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jessica Lux on October 16, 2006
Format: Hardcover
As an inside look at autism and special needs families, McGovern's novel is a five-star winner. As a psychological thriller, however, it is painfully terrible. On a literary technical level, it is an enjoyable read. As a novel about female friendships, well, one must wonder what kind of alternate reality McGovern's personal friendships exist in.

The novel opens with a criminal mystery--two children have disappeared at recess. Hours later, the body of the girl is discovered, and the only witness to the murder is her autistic nine-year-old schoolmate Adam. The story is told from a half a dozen perspectives, but it is truly driven by Adam's mother Cara, a single mom who has devoted her entire life to raising her special needs son.

McGovern's characters either have special needs (autism, brain damage, social disorders, agoraphobia, and addiction) or have personal and professional lives which are consumed by such conditions. As a mother, Cara has shifted parenting philosophies during her son's growth, in a constant struggle between making him as "normal" as possible and admitting that letting follow his own innate preferences makes him the happiest. Do you ask the world to treat an autistic son as a normal child, or do you admit upfront that your child requires special accommodations?

In addition to her parenting experience, Cara had grade- and high school experience with a friend who was brain damaged as a result of a household accident. She has lifelong guilt and doubt about the way she related to her friend in their youth.

For all its strengths in explore the complex emotions surrounding disabilities, as a thriller, Eye Contact is a convoluted mess.
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Format: Hardcover
What a disturbingly beautiful book. I read this in one big gulp because the mystery was too compelling to put on hold. In that genre it reminded me most of Ross Macdonald, not because of formal qualities but because it was more about the mystery of relationship than the actual crime. As in her previous book, Cammie McGovern writes with tortuous brilliance about betrayal and love. At the heart of the story is the mystery of Cara's autistic child, Adam, but her broken friendships with Suzette and Kevin, which prefigure and establish the lifework of raising Adam, are equally compelling. If Adam is a mystery, so is Cara. She seems destined to have become the mother of this child, even though there's nothing divine or cosmic leading her down that path. Her interests, her failures, and her nature lead her to become a good mother and a detective of the human soul. Cara is a wonderfully flawed person, a richly reflective and loving mother and friend. She confronts the "autism epidemic" without much anger or rancor, perhaps because her choices have led her to be a single mother and maybe because she's learning what she needs to learn. I kept being struck by how well-equipped she was for loving Adam, even though she often feels inadequate and certainly is not as well-supported by her community as she might be. Like many protagonists she has a maddening tendency to go it alone. In the course of the novel she learns to rely on others, which helps her let Adam do the same. That's always good to see, especially given Adam's autism and her fear and isolation. The secondary characters are vivid and moving - especially the other children. Most of them are somewhere on the autistic spectrum, but after a while that seems like a meaningless distinction. The term differently-abled took on real meaning for me.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
I am a lover of mystery novels, and Eye Contact more than fills my requirements for a satisfying read. The book offers a gruesome and unfortunately believable crime, humanly flawed characters, psychologically disturbing yet frighteningly normal suspects, and a realistic yet uplifting conclusion. Although I was initially drawn to Eye Contact because of the mystery element (which certainly kept me turning the pages eager to find out "who done it"), the mystery is not what sticks with me a week after finishing the book. Ultimately, Eye Contact is a book about parenting. McGovern's quiet and occasionally heartbreaking insights into the parent/child relationship take my breath away. Eye Contact captures the essential paradox of parenthood: loving our children for who they are within the limitations of who we are.
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Format: Hardcover
I found the portrayals of children with autism, PDD, Aspergers (although it's not named as such here), ODD and so on to be dead on in this novel---they were shown in a very realistic way, not as savants or fascinating puzzles or any of the ways they are often shown in books and the media. It was so nice to be able to read a book and see kids like the ones I know so well, in my family and at their school!

The plot, however, was a lot weaker. I think it would have been better had a lot less elements found their way into it! The side stories about Keven and Suzette just were a little much to take in, and there were even more minor plot events than those thrown in---side romances, family tensions from the past and so on. The central story of a girl's murder would have been enough to keep this compelling. There were more fake endings than a bad TV mystery---you could also tell it wasn't over after a while because there was so much more book to read! Also, the woods where the murder took place had an amazing amount of action on the day of the murder---they sound more like a busy street than a wooded area.

These are all fairly minor quibbles, however. I read the book eagerly through to the end, and would recommend it to both those with an interest in autism and those who like to read a puzzling mystery.
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