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Harmony by Carolyn Parkhurst

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Harmony by Carolyn Parkhurst

Harmony by Carolyn Parkhurst

Alexandra has tried her best to provide a loving and constructive environment for her two children Tilly and Iris.  Iris, the youngest, is a neurotypical child, who loves but is sometimes frustrated by her sister Tilly.  Tilly, the eldest, is brilliant but different, falling somewhere on the autism spectrum.  She is obsessed with giant people (statues that are larger than life size) and can share interesting facts with anyone, often without being asked, she is beginning to grasp what language and topics are and aren’t appropriate, but with limited success, and she is generally a happy person.  However after a life threatening incident at her school, the last school that would enroll her, Tilly is asked to leave.  Alexandra is faced with the last resort, homeschooling, but even that idea is not working out.  At her wits end Alexandra starts to convince her husband Josh that an extreme change is needed.  Enter Scott Bean.

Scott is a parenting guru who has developed a following of parents of children with autism who are, like Alexandra, looking for a good parenting/education option for her children.  Scott is creating a camp, Camp Harmony, in the woods of New Hampshire and has asked three families to join him in running it. Feeling that this is her only hope for a normal life for Tilly, and seeing how Scott is able to connect with her daughter and other children like her, her family moves to New Hampshire.

You know from the start that something is going to go wrong.  This is the story of a family in crisis that finds a savior in a man who is far from perfect, very far, but does that mean all he did for their family means nothing?  When you hear about these people who follow strange leaders do you wonder how they could pick up their lives and do such a thing?  Alexandra used to read those stories and feel the same.  Until she met Scott Bean.

The book is told in alternating chapters narrated by Iris in the present and Alexandra in the past to illustrate what brought the family to Camp Harmony and what life is like at the camp.  Seeing the camp through the eyes of an observant child clues the adult reader into how odd things are, but Iris knows better than to question Scott’s strange teaching methods and angry outbursts. An interesting look at a family struggling to figure out what is best for everyone in their family.

And for those who are nervous about what you read in this description, the book ends on a positive note.  Fans of Jodi Picoult and Ann Leary will enjoy this novel.

By | 2017-05-03T20:01:55+00:00 September 28th, 2016|SCLSNJ Recommended Reads|
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