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Sucking Up Yellow Jackets: Raising An Un Kindle Edition
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The writing is crisp and the memoir reads like a well-crafted novel. This is a great read for anyone, but especially for a person who knows any family dealing with Aspergers or forms of autism. You'll get a true insider's glimpse. The book really makes you feel for the families and children who must cope with these conditions, and reveals the depths of hardship and bizarre moments that Aspergers can manifest. Best of all, the author's wry view of life makes us all see the wacky moments and the humor in the day to day. And it's humor, in the end, that saves them all and finally leads Max on to a life well lived.
This son, Max, who figured out how to detach the bars of his crib and climb out the window before he was one year old, would, with his high IQ, lack of empathy for others, unacceptable behavior and obstinate inability to obey rules that made no sense to him, constantly be getting himself kicked out of school or hauled off to jail. Both school administrators and the police never failed to accuse tiny Denault of being a bad mother for not laying down the law to the boy and handling him with an iron fist. And of course it made sense that they would accuse only her. In that period, the raising of children fell almost completely to mothers--well, it still kind of does--even in two-parent families, and in any case Max's father, who himself had little empathy for others, usually managed to absent himself from most of the difficulties at home.
Max would eventually be diagnosed with Asberger's Syndrome, but that wouldn't happen till long after he had left home and was, in fact, in his mid forties.
Denault tells Max's story, which is also her own and that of her family, in a charming, fluid, highly readable prose. Throughout, she never whines or complains, but just tells it like it is, or was, and what that is and was is daunting to read about.
Finally, while not in short-story form, or "cute," this book falls into that category of family literature that includes such classics as "Mama's Bank Account" (more popularly known by its stage, screen and TV title, "I Remember Mama") and "Life with Father." It can be enjoyed and appreciated even by people who have no idea what Asberger's Syndrome is, but want to know what it was really like to be a wife and mother in the 1950s, as told by someone who was right in the thick of it all, and whom you quickly come to love and admire.
From climbing out of his cot within a few months of his birth to climbing a telephone wire hand over hand high above their terraced home in Philadelphia and then, as a teenager, dismantling a motor cycle simply because his mother demanded he had to get rid of it and he took that to mean literally, Jeanne depicts in precise, wry prose what it was like to bring up this super intelligent child at a time when Asperger's wasn't even understood by the medical community. She thought she was going mad or had spawned the devil's child.
Jeanne and her family moved around the states while Winston was growing up--Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Illinois where Jeanne's attempts to fit in among the 'meat and potatoes' women of the area drew their scorn when she made a gourmet dish featuring a mild curry sauce for a block party and incited their wrath. The family relocated to Pennsylvania again after Max had a few run-ins with the local police and judges. His teachers, some of his counselors and even her husband blamed her for some of his excesses.
A fast, dazzling and very enjoyable read.