Customer Reviews for

Boy Alone: A Brother's Memoir

Average Rating 3.5
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

Brave and honest but

As the grandparent of a child with Asperger's and friend to a parent whose child is severely autistic, I approached this book cautiously. This subject, when too closely regarded, can hurt. I was rewarded with a detailed history of treatments and therapies, enlightening ...
As the grandparent of a child with Asperger's and friend to a parent whose child is severely autistic, I approached this book cautiously. This subject, when too closely regarded, can hurt. I was rewarded with a detailed history of treatments and therapies, enlightening descriptions of current research, and, most of all, a brave and honest account of a sibling/family struggle to cope with this disease. But just when I was ready to proclaim to my own circle, You have to read this! - I was totally derailed by the incredible sidestep that occurs near the end of the story. And, when I'd righted myself and reread where I'd been led astray, I was angry. My own hopes felt exploited and betrayed. Why did Greenfeld have to do it this way? Is it an eminently discussable book? Yes. But beware. Reality bites.

posted by Fromtheheart on March 26, 2010

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Most Helpful Critical Review

3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

Not all that great.

Having grown up in a relatively normal family, I cannot even start to understand how difficult it was to grow up with a brother like Noah. However, I sympathized with Karl because I felt his pain and his loneliness through his book. I understood how much he disliked his...
Having grown up in a relatively normal family, I cannot even start to understand how difficult it was to grow up with a brother like Noah. However, I sympathized with Karl because I felt his pain and his loneliness through his book. I understood how much he disliked his brother. Karl felt that there was no hope for his brother in the future, so he thought of Noah as a lost cause. While I was reading, I felt the same about Noah too, but then Karl went on to explain how Noah got better! Karl wrote that when he got back from college, he came home to a brother that could speak! He went on to explain how Noah helped him get through his drug addictions, how Noah got married with his first "girlfriend" and how he even asked Karl for his blessing. Once Karl explains how Noah has made magnificent progress, more than anyone could have hoped. Karl cruelly tells the readers that all he had written about Noah and his improvements was just a dream. In reality, Noah had been institutionalized with other autistic adults and had been beaten and hurt. After believing that Noah had gotten better and had improved, this news was devastating and ruined the book for me. It made me sad and made me want to stop reading the book all together. I hated the fact that Karl Greenfeld had led me on to believe that Noah had gotten better.

posted by Tiffany_T on October 2, 2010

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  • Posted October 14, 2011

    A Restricted Lifestyle (Spoiler Alert!)

    In this memoir, Boy Alone: A Brothers Memoir by Karl Taro Greenfeld, I clearly understand the hardships that Karl and his family faced due to my personal experiences with autistic relatives.
    Although this book contains great details, it really lacks in the ending when Karl reveals that Noah had, indeed, never gotten better. It is a huge disappointment and ruins the interest of the story, even though it is the truth. I, however, like the way Greenfeld explains his own personal experiences and how they are deeply affected by Noah's autism. Having an autistic brother not only affects his social life and family, but also takes a toll on him physically. He states, "Noah is a dream killer, reducing our family's idea of a better life to one banal state: normality" (79). I can't even imagine how difficult it would be to have a low-functioning autistic sibling. It is nearly impossible to think about sending your loved ones away to a mental home. Karl's father, John, wrote in his journal, "Fight as hard as you can, then give up" (177). The fact that parents with autistic children try so hard so their kids can live normal lives is saddening. Most of the time, they end up giving their children away and the time spent trying to help them seems wasted. Although Karl and Noah may not be able to speak with each other, they share a special bond as brothers that is hard to give up. Karl's misuse of drugs not only worsened his problems with Noah, but it also restricted him from fulfilling his full potential as a student.
    Overall, I find this book to be amusing, but lacking in parts such as the beginning where the author repeatedly speaks about his brother's situation over and over again. If you are a reader who would love to gain new perspectives on having autistic kin, this book would be excellent and could help you truly understand what people have to go through. But beware, the ending is a big letdown and there are also parts where the author tends to drone on about the same topics.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 13, 2011

    Great emotions but lacking true perspective.

    For my outside reading book, I took the challenge of reading Boy Alone: A Brother's Memoir by Karl Taro Greenfeld. Having many of my friends and relatives with autistic children, I was able to clearly understand the difficulties and hardships that Karl and his family had to go through. Although this book contained great details and experiences, it really lacked in the ending when Karl reveals that Noah had indeed never gotten better. It was a huge disappointment and ruined the flow and interest of the story, even though it was the truth. I, however, like the way Greenfeld explained his own personal experiences and how they were deeply affected by Noah's autism. Having an autistic brother not only affected his social life, but also took a toll on him physically. His misuse of drugs and the way he wrote about these experiences really grabbed my attention. Overall, I found this book to be amusing but lacking in parts such as the beginning where the author repeatedly spoke about his brother's situation over and over again. If you are a reader who would love to gain new perspectives on having autistic kin, this book would be excellent and help you truly understand what people have to go through. But beware, the ending is a big letdown and there are also parts where the author tends to drone on about the same topics.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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