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A Wild Ride Up the Cupboards: A Novel Paperback – July 4, 2006

4.6 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Bauer's nuanced debut chronicles a mother's struggle with her child's mysterious, undiagnosed illness and the once-passionate marriage that doesn't survive the decades of extraordinary stress. Love, marriage and babies follow quickly from Rachel and Jack's first electric meeting, when Rachel is a 20-year-old student at a small Minnesota college and Jack an itinerant worker. But when Edward, the eldest of their three children, turns four, he suddenly transforms from a bright, animated boy to a zombie who goes weeks without sleeping, stares endlessly at his hand and howls to fill a silent room. Settled in Minneapolis, Rachel and Jack try various doctors, codeine and even marijuana tea for their son, who is often mistaken for an autistic, but he stays locked in what he calls, during moments of lucidity, "the nowhere place." Bauer follows the family through Edward's adolescence: Jack struggles with alcoholism and holding down a job while Rachel, a journalist, binds the family together with fierce mother-love. Throughout, Rachel attempts to unravel the mystery of her long-deceased Uncle Mickey, a strange, troubled man whose plight might hold a clue to Edward's disease. Bauer's prose often pierces with authentic, unsentimental power, but blow-by-blow chronological plotting diminishes the novel's grace. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

In her sensitive debut, certain aspects of which were inspired by her own life, Bauer describes what happens to an apparently normal family when one of its members becomes inexplicably ill. Jack and Rachel, pregnant again, have two boys--Edward, nearly four, and Matt, two--when Edward suddenly experiences loss of speech, hyperactivity, and insomnia. They run through a gauntlet of doctors: one thinks the behaviors may be caused by brain tumors; another suggests they try marijuana. Asked to provide family medical histories, Jack and Rachel are faced with unearthing painful memories involving Jack's birth parents, whom he never knew, and Rachel's mysterious uncle Mickey, who exhibited symptoms similar to Edward's and eventually committed suicide. By the time Edward is in seventh grade, he has improved markedly yet still has days when he has "the screens pulled down inside his head." By then the marriage has failed, the stress proving too great for this family in peril, portrayed by Bauer with unflinching honesty. Deborah Donovan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; Reprint edition (July 4, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743269500
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743269506
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,657,684 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I loved this book on 2 levels: First, having an autistic nephew, I found much in the story that was eerily similar to our own experiences, sometimes with much different reactions and outcomes, though. Nice to see it through another's eyes. Second, Ann Bauer is a gifted story teller. The story captivates the reader with both it's portrayals of the circumstances and the emotional journey of the mother (and father to some extent.) This is not only a story of an autistic child, but is a story of motherhood and a marriage. Don't miss this book. (Beware, some of the reviews below give away far too much of the storyline. I suggest reading only part way if you'd rather wait for the book to give you all the story. Why do reviewers do this?? How inconsiderate.)
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Format: Paperback
I read this book and "Curious Incident of the Dog In the Nightime" to fulfill a requirement for a diversity class I'm taking. I was the only person in the class who liked "Wild Ride" better than "Curious Dog." As a special educator, I watch and listen as families wade through their lives with a disabled child. It can be messy, complicated, and exhausting, as well as vibrant and rich. For me, this book tapped into all of those things. As I listened to the rest pick apart this book and learned how disappointed they were with the mother, it became apparent to me that, what the group DIDN'T like, was the emotion it sparked within them. I found "Curious Dog," to be somewhat informative for the reader who doesn't know much about autism, but I found "Wild Ride" to be much more 3-dimensional. In all, both were very good books, but with very different perspectives.
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Format: Hardcover
This book works on so many levels. It gives us insight into how people with all kinds of cognitive disorders find incomprehensible the world that we take for granted. The book also lets us see into the hearts of two mothers, separated by half a century, who face the terror of losing sons. And it makes an argument, a convincing argument, that sometimes the things we want most in life come at a great price.

Ms. Bauer's writing is clear, lucid, and beautiful. A remarkable first novel from an author I have no doubt we will be seeing more of.
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Format: Hardcover
I'm blown away. I've been waiting for this book ever since I read some of Ann Bauer's earlier writing: she has a storyteller's knack for writing about the fierce, determined love mothers feel in difficult and confusing situations, situations that don't resolve themselves completely. Bauer writes characters that feel deeply real, human and flawed and admirable and, at times, dislikable. The story has a central focus: a young couple's talky, brilliant son slides mysteriously to the edges of his own mind, skating into territory that sometimes looks like autism, sometimes looks like something else. The book watches the marriage, and the people in it, shift to accommodate the son's mysterious changes. But the story's about more than that: it asks what happens in a family as a result of all that shifting. It asks us to feel a love so fierce, in a situation so pressing, and to question the lengths we'd go to, if that were us. The prose is beautiful, never overwritten, happening in lines that are tight and rhythmically beautiful. Easily the best book I've read this year.
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Format: Hardcover
Though a lot of reviewers have called Edward, the central character in WILD RIDE, autistic he is better described as an atypical child with some autistic characteristics. Bauer does a great job describing the impact a child who is very different from others has on his whole family and particularly his parents. WILD RIDE is especially interesting because Edward's mother (Rachel, the narrator of the book) includes researching family history in an attempt to help Edward. The story of her maternal uncle Micky's difficult life in the mid 50's is a compelling story in itself. Rachel also looks in to her adopted husband, Jack's, birth family. Jack, himself, displays some unusual characteristics as he has an uncanny ability to heal, problems with employment and authority and just an unconventional outlook on life. While this is a generally well written book there are spots where time shifts are handled in a confusing manner but a bit of rereading makes all clear.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I don't think this is a book one could "like" per se. "Experience" might be a better word. The story is dark and often sad or frustrating. The author alternates between protagonists as a narrative device. Sometimes it's an "aha moment"; sometimes it merely confuses. I used to work with schizophrenic and autistic children, and there are many situations in this book that resonate strongly. I found the ending less than satisfying, but since there are still many unanswered questions about the futures of children like these, perhaps the lack of resolution to the story was the author's intention. I'm glad I read the book, and I have recommended it to others.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Ann Bauer is a phenom writer--I love all her novels and her essays. This, her first novel, will grip you from he first word. Her honest appraisal of a family dealing with a child in need and how it affects every member of the family is heartbreaking and wonderful.
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