Book Review: Next Stop

Book Review:  Next Stop

“First, it’s important to know that a story about autism isn’t a story about a single child.  It is a story about an entire family,” writes Glen Finland in her memoir Next Stop.  It’s a love story, and not just about romantic love, but the love of a family.

When an editor asked Finland to write a story about teaching her adult son David (whom she calls “tall, dark, and autistic”) how to ride the metro in Washington, D.C., her first thought was, people would really want to read that?  Turns out, people do.  Because her story isn’t just about autism or just about her son, but it’s a story that any parent can read to learn about love and hope -- and you won’t want to put it down.

One minute Finland has you rolling with laughter (when she tells the story of asking her son to take the wheel as she frantically takes off her black socks so he can wear them for his job interview) and the next minute your heart is breaking:  “I looked over at David and said, ‘Dave, do you realize what a lucky guy you are to have someone love you enough to go through what we just did today?’  ‘Yeah,’ he said, pausing a beat in his traffic watching.  ‘Who?’”

Finland writes, “I’m no expert, but I can tell you this:  If you’ve met one autistic person, then you’ve met one autistic person.”  Finland documents her son’s quirks and peculiarities, from his fascination with birds to the “two-foot rule” for personal space.  And through each detail of each anecdote, we feel her fear, sadness, frustration, hope, and above all else, her love.

She takes you on an emotional roller coaster, from feelings of parental satisfaction (“David was near swooning with the cascading laughter of a child, the universal sound that delights the human heart.  It was the first time I had ever heard him laugh out loud.”) to the realization of letting go:  “He is making up his own mind about where he wants the train to take him.  Stop by stop.”  Finland remarks, “when that someone is your someone and no one else’s, your heart works overtime.”  And ours are now, too.

Through her story, we begin to realize it’s not just about one individual with autism, but it’s the universal truth that just as with any parent, learning to let go and reclaim our lives is harder than we imagined.

Read more about Glen Finland here.  Visit Glen online and on Facebook and Twitter.

Photo by Funky Tee

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Written by: Cara Batema See other articles by Cara Batema
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