Authors Paul Karasik and Judy Karasik are from a family of six that includes three brothers and one sister. Together they write and cartoon their way through a book that is based on a sensitive and at times painful subject matter of autism. Together, these grown siblings collaborate to share their own personal understandings of their brother David’s disability and how it affects their family.
Despite the daily unusual aspects of living with David’s outbursts and his long running daily “shows” based on various television series he watches, the family manages to find a way to incorporate it into a normal home life with help from a much-loved, down-to-earth mother. There are times when the authors acknowledge the difficulty of living with their brother and his outburst: the times when Dad loses his patience and then is instantly repentant; the numerous unspoken rules that abound about bringing new people to their home and what might occur if they encounter David. Will they come again? Will they understand the way the rest of their family has come to understand David? Should they just not invite the person over at all for risk of losing the friendship? Then there are the outside activities they immerse themselves in to remain out of the house. When the tragic loss of a dear friend and longtime helper of the family along with their mother’s oldest sister occurs, it serves as a bond of understanding in the family about loss and how it’s okay that people are born different.
Paul’s comic chapter drawings are found every other chapter in this important book about autism. His family’s daily lives are drawn as seen from the eyes of a young boy to a young man. At times angry, at times filled with shame, and at times filled with playfulness, his drawings allow a brevity from this subject that is difficult to speak about. This is a wonderful book about a subject that needs more public awareness. It opens up a door to allowing a coming-together of families who share in having a member with autism, and for a deeper understanding in the public at large.
Judy writes these few sentences partway through the book that sum up not only her feelings, but perhaps the feelings of her entire family and all the families confronted with this one form of a physical disability:
“I knew that, in an unpleasant way, this was going to make me a better person, that I deserved to have David as he deserved to have me. It was just that right then and there I didn’t want to be a better person.”
A precious look inside the private life of one family’s struggles with autism, this book is informing as the authors use their humor, pains and daily lives to paint us a picture of this disability and how one family lived with it.