The Horse Boy: A Memoir of Healing
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The Horse Boy: A Memoir of Healing

4.2 71
by Rupert Isaacson
     
 

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Rowan Issacson was two years old when he was diagnosed with autism. His father, Rupert, a lifelong horseman, was devastated. Would he ever be able to communicate with his son, much less share the wonder of horses with him?

Then something extraordinary happened. Rowan encountered Betsy, a neighbor's testy mare, and a new, profound calm fell over him. Rupert saw

Overview

Rowan Issacson was two years old when he was diagnosed with autism. His father, Rupert, a lifelong horseman, was devastated. Would he ever be able to communicate with his son, much less share the wonder of horses with him?

Then something extraordinary happened. Rowan encountered Betsy, a neighbor's testy mare, and a new, profound calm fell over him. Rupert saw that his distant, unreachable son had a real connection with the horse. When he took Rowan riding on Betsy, the boy began to improve remarkably. Rupert wondered: What if they took that connection further? What if they traveled to a place where horses and healing come together?

The Horse Boy is the heart-wrenching and triumphant tale of the Isaacson family's journey to Outer Mongolia and to new ways of healing. This inspiring true story shows how even in our darkest moments we can discover joy, and how hope can arrive in the most unexpected of ways.

Editorial Reviews

Bookpage
"Isaacson's astonishing memoirreveals how, inspired by these rare moments in the saddle, he began a quest through Mongolia to heal his five-year-old son.... Isaacson's journey to heal his son is just that, a healing, not a cure. But he wouldn't want it any other way. While the author's purpose was to draw Rowan out of his autism, he came to realize the overlooked gifts it entails. The Horse Boy will leave readers with a new appreciation for autism and the healing techniques of other cultures; like Rowan, they, too, will be changed forever."
Temple Grandin
Everyone who is fascinated by the human-animal bond should read this totally engrossing book.
author of Animals in Translation
Luis Alberto Urrea
Rupert Isaacson has conjured a non-fiction journey that reads like an epic novel.It is a book of endless amazements. The world of Mongolian shamans, the details of adventuresome travel, the mysterious world of autism—all are all amazing.Soon, you realize that the world of horses is mysterious, too—and, yes, amazing.By the time you are in the grip of this book, you'll see love, marriage, and parenthood as a realm of magic, profound power, and further amazements.The Horse Boy can change the way you see your life, and it's a terrifically good read at the same time.It feels like a classic.
author of The Hummingbird's Daughter and The Devil's Highway
Good Housekeeping
"A colorful real-life adventure with inspiring results."
The Cleveland Plain Dealer
"Isaacson charts his son's progress and regressions with an endearing tenderness.... Readers also follow the rare moments when Rowan expresses affection for his father, who is honest and humble throughout. And the author's chatty and self-deprecating storytelling adds a welcome buoyancy to a weighty experience. Meanwhile, Mongolia makes a fetching backdrop for this father/son love story.... Rooting for Rowan through all this... makes The Horse Boy an unexpected page turner."
Dr. Temple Grandin - author of Animals in Translation
"Everyone who is fascinated by the human-animal bond should read this totally engrossing book."
Luis Alberto Urrea - author of The Hummingbird's Daughter and The Devil's Highway
"Rupert Isaacson has conjured a non-fiction journey that reads like an epic novel.It is a book of endless amazements. The world of Mongolian shamans, the details of adventuresome travel, the mysterious world of autism--all are all amazing.Soon, you realize that the world of horses is mysterious, too--and, yes, amazing.By the time you are in the grip of this book, you'll see love, marriage, and parenthood as a realm of magic, profound power, and further amazements.The Horse Boy can change the way you see your life, and it's a terrifically good read at the same time.It feels like a classic."
From the Publisher
"Isaacson's astonishing memoirreveals how, inspired by these rare moments in the saddle, he began a quest through Mongolia to heal his five-year-old son.... Isaacson's journey to heal his son is just that, a healing, not a cure. But he wouldn't want it any other way. While the author's purpose was to draw Rowan out of his autism, he came to realize the overlooked gifts it entails. The Horse Boy will leave readers with a new appreciation for autism and the healing techniques of other cultures; like Rowan, they, too, will be changed forever."—Bookpage

"Everyone who is fascinated by the human-animal bond should read this totally engrossing book."—Dr. Temple Grandin, author of Animals in Translation"

Rupert Isaacson has conjured a non-fiction journey that reads like an epic novel.It is a book of endless amazements. The world of Mongolian shamans, the details of adventuresome travel, the mysterious world of autism—all are all amazing.Soon, you realize that the world of horses is mysterious, too—and, yes, amazing.By the time you are in the grip of this book, you'll see love, marriage, and parenthood as a realm of magic, profound power, and further amazements.The Horse Boy can change the way you see your life, and it's a terrifically good read at the same time.It feels like a classic."—Luis Alberto Urrea, author of The Hummingbird's Daughter and The Devil's Highway"

In this intense, polished account, the parents of an autistic boy trek to the Mongolian steppes to consult shamans in a last-ditch effort to alter his unraveling behavior.... Isaacson records heartening improvement in Rowan's firestormlike tantrums and incontinence, as he taps into an ancient, valuable form of spirit healing."—Publishers Weekly"

A colorful real-life adventure with inspiring results."—Good Housekeeping"

Isaacson charts his son's progress and regressions with an endearing tenderness.... Readers also follow the rare moments when Rowan expresses affection for his father, who is honest and humble throughout. And the author's chatty and self-deprecating storytelling adds a welcome buoyancy to a weighty experience. Meanwhile, Mongolia makes a fetching backdrop for this father/son love story.... Rooting for Rowan through all this... makes The Horse Boy an unexpected page turner."—The Cleveland Plain Dealer

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780316008242
Publisher:
Little, Brown and Company
Publication date:
04/02/2010
Pages:
355
Sales rank:
389,368
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.10(d)

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Meet the Author

Rupert Isaacson was born in London to a South African mother and a Zimbabwean father.Isaacson's first book, The Healing Land (Grove Press), was a2004 New York Times Notable Book.He has travelled extensively in Africa, Asia, and North America for the British press and now lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife, Kristin, and their son, Rowan.

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Horse Boy 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 71 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I Love This Book. There is a movie coming out too. If you are a horse lover or like reading about peoples lives I suggest you read this. It inspired me to ride horses and now I practically own a horse! If you read this book I hope you enjoy it.
Twink More than 1 year ago
I really enjoy a good biography or memoir and The Horse Boy did not disappoint. When Rupert and Kristin's son Rowan is diagnosed with autism, they try everything they can think of to help him. Nothing seems to be bringing their boy back to them. Until the day when Rowan runs into a neighbouring pasture at their home in Texas and straight at a horse named Betsy. Hot on his heels, Rupert is terrified that his son will be injured. Instead, the unexpected happens - Betsy puts her head down in submission to the boy . Rupert, a former professional horse trainer, encourages this interest. Father and son begin riding together. Rowan's behaviour is markedly changed during interaction with the horse. In addition to horse training, Rupert is "the founding director of the Indigenous Land Rights Fund, a non-profit organization that helps threatened and displaced indigenous tribes obtain tenure of their ancestral land." He has participated with the shamans of Botswana in healing ceremonies. (He's also an award winning author) Could these two seemingly disparate interests help his son? He believes that they can. Kristin, Rupert, Rowan and an entire film crew set off to Outer Mongolia and Siberia. Much of the journey will be on horseback to visit the shamans of these areas and see if they can help Rowan. And that's as much as I'm going to give you...... I listened to this in unabridged audio format. The reader was the author himself. And I don't think the story would have has as much impact for me if it been anyone else. Isaacson was born in England. I enjoyed his accent. His heartache, anguish and happiness are conveyed through his voice. Life with Rowan and all that goes with it is projected through his narrative. The screaming, the repetitiveness, the coping mechanisms employed by both Rowan his parents. The love for their child. I was so caught up in this story and the possibilities that were offered. The Horse Boy has been made into a film and is a Sundance 2009 selection and has won other awards as well. Definitely one I want to watch. The Isaacsons have started a foundation in Texas that pursues the horse/autism connection. This one goes on my best of 2009 list. Highly, recommended.
southerngirlinthewest More than 1 year ago
I had heard the author interviewed on NPR and was amazed by his story. If you love kids and horses you will be immediately entranced by this story. I was extremely touched by the father's love for his son and his openness in describing all of the struggles involved in fighting for some sense of normalcy in a family dealing with an autistic child. While his plan to visit Mongolia by horseback with his son at first seems outlandish, once you fully understand his motivation and genuineness you see why it was so important. He does an outstanding job of relating his wife's pain with the situation. Her willingness to try this plan for her son made my heart ache. I don't personally have an autistic child but I was interested to learn more about the struggle involved for these families. On a most basic level, this book is about two parents' love for their child - something we all understand and cherish!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My bff recomemded this book to me so i read it and almost immeadly i waas swept into the story of the boy and how th dad tried to help him. This is a amazing story!READ IT!!!
carrport More than 1 year ago
Wonderful story of an autistic child and his parents' search for a cure.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You hear people say "I'd go to the ends of the earth to help" but rarely do we do that to help another. In this book, the parents do travel to the far ends of the earth to help their young boy. Those, who are not acquainted with autism may find it difficult to understand why straight forward discipline isn't used to get the young man "straightened out". Those who know about autism will marvel at the patience and over the top effort that the parents use to help their son.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well written and certainly an eye-opener about the struggles, patience and compassion of parents who deal on a daily basis with special needs children. Also a colorfully described "travelog" of Mongolia, where the family sought help for their son.
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Very moving and an eye opener
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DF48 More than 1 year ago
I was unable to put this book down. The author has given me a better understanding of what parents go through with autistic children. I loved reading about the family's adventure and quest for healing in Mongolia. Being a horse lover, I was fascinated. Winston Churhill's statement that, "The outside of a horse is good for the inside of a man" is very appropo. The shaman medicine is intriguing, and I think God works through this to heal (though some I didn't understand, such as the whipping). I learned an important lesson in the difference between being healed and being cured.
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donnareads911 More than 1 year ago
An autistic boy - his father - his mother - a horse. And how they found a cure. Sounds like a great premise. Although it is truly admirable as to what the father has done to find help for his son, it didn't grab me, either emotionally or psychologically. The story grew so pedantic with details, I lost interest. I continue to believe that animals, especially horses, can necessitate a cure. The author has great potential, though. Instead of plodding, let's just gallop a bit!
honesttoafault More than 1 year ago
I thought this book was well written; it held my interest and I felt it was completely believable. I work with both students with special needs in a school setting as well as in an equine therapy setting. Sometimes we have to think outside the box with unique kids. As for taking a young child into the wilderness I say go for it as long as your experienced and it sounds like his father knew what he was doing. People need to lighten up; the child benefited from this experience!
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