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Life, Animated: A Story of Sidekicks, Heroes, and Autism

Life, Animated: A Story of Sidekicks, Heroes, and Autism

4.0 8
by Ron Suskind

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What if you were trapped in a Disney movie? In all of them, actually - from Dumbo to Peter Pan to The Lion King -- and had to learn about life and love mostly from what could be gleaned from animated characters, dancing across a screen of color? Asking this question opens a doorway to the most extraordinary of stories. It is the saga of Owen Suskind, who happens to be


What if you were trapped in a Disney movie? In all of them, actually - from Dumbo to Peter Pan to The Lion King -- and had to learn about life and love mostly from what could be gleaned from animated characters, dancing across a screen of color? Asking this question opens a doorway to the most extraordinary of stories. It is the saga of Owen Suskind, who happens to be the son of one of America's most noted writers, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Ron Suskind. He's also autistic. The twisting, 20-year journey of this boy and his family will change that way you see autism, old Disney movies, and the power of imagination to heal a shattered, upside-down world.

Editorial Reviews

Ron Suskind is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and a bestselling author (Confidence Men; The One Percent Doctrine), but he is also the father of a 20-year-old autistic son. The writer and his wife were understandably shocked when at the age of three, Owen suddenly lost his ability to communicate. As they searched for solutions, they noticed that their son was immersed in Disney animated films. After that chance discovery, it didn't take long for them to realize that Owen's transactions with the world were being conducted through the medium of these movies. To reach him, Ron and his wife needed to enter this symbolic world of magical creatures and enchanted forests. This unforgettable memoir, which is enhanced by its own Disney artistry, carries enchantments of its own. Editor's recommendation.

The New York Times - Judith Warner
Mr. Suskind's honesty is striking and deeply admirable. He is careful to respect his family's dignity, but can be merciless when it comes to self-revelation, particularly when laying out the contours of his double life: the contrast between his professional standing as a member of Washington's journalistic elite and his personal status as the father of a child, whom he himself, as a child, would have dismissed as "damaged goods"…[a] stellar book.
From the Publisher
"Mr. Suskind displays virtuosity in capturing the intimate realities of life in a household dominated by autism, where the disorder shapes the life of every family member."—Judith Warner, The New York Times

Reading Suskind's factual yet moving account of the devotion, love and energy put into helping Owen will leave readers wondering if they could do the same. This is a wonderful book, whether or not you know a person with autism.—Amanda St. Amand, St. Louis Post Dispatch

The book by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ron Suskind is a fierce love story. It is also one of those fascinating medical stories that show doctors have no monopoly on knowledge.—Mark Johnson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

"Ron Suskind's "Life, Animated" is an extraordinary saga of an exceptional boy from a remarkable family and their compelling journey through autism."—David Royko, Chicago Tribune

"Life, Animated is the author's amazing memoir of his family's 20-year, struggle to connect with their autistic son. This is the book that readers who have no one in their lives affected by autism and who would otherwise never it pick up should definitely read. Eyes will tear. Hearts will cheer. In these pages, Owen is every reader's son."—Don Oldenburg, USA Today

Kirkus Reviews
A deeply felt, movingly written account of raising an autistic son. As a best-selling author and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Suskind has earned his renown with deeply reported, big-picture stories of domestic policies (Confidence Men, 2011) and international affairs (The Way of the World, 2008). His latest is more tightly focused and intimate in tone, as it deals with two decades of struggles and triumphs of a family trying to do whatever is best for their younger son, Owen, who has somehow been able to make emotional connections through Disney movies that so many with autism never can. The investigative reporter in Suskind might be a little suspicious of a book that depends so heavily on Disney products, and includes visits with its actors and animators and is published through a Disney imprint, even as he insists that Disney "agreed to exert no influence whatsoever over the content of this book." It details the experience of having a seemingly normal toddler who "vanished" into what was subsequently diagnosed as autism. Early on, they figure, "[i]t's just a matter of reaching him, of figuring out what caused this storm to envelop him, so we can clear away the clouds and let the light back in." Nothing was that simple, of course, as frustration at the inadequacies of educational options and conflicting therapeutic strategies, at expenses that run toward $100,000 per year, set in. Disney proved to be the way in, as Owen deeply identified with the sidekicks and misfits of the videos he watched repeatedly, memorized whole scripts and began drawing; he now wants to become an animator. Owen's obsession has aided his emotional and intellectual development, as he made friends, graduated from high school and enjoyed his first kiss as much as the next romantic teenager. The Disney effect may be distinctive to this experience, but the family dynamic should resonate with a much wider readership. A master journalistic storyteller tells his family's own story.< BR>★

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Disney Press
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Digital Picture Book
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Meet the Author

RonSuskind isthe author of four New York Times bestsellers and the critically acclaimed, A Hope in the Unseen: An American Odyssey from the Inner City tothe Ivy League. His other books include, Confidence Men, The Way of the World, The One Percent Doctrine and The Price of Loyalty. He was the senior national affairs writer for The Wall Street Journal,where he won the Pulitzer Prize, and is currently the Senior Fellow atHarvard's Center for Ethics. He lives in Cambridge, Mass., with his wife, Cornelia Kennedy.

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Life, Animated: A Story of Sidekicks, Heroes, and Autism 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a fantastic true story of two parents struggling to find a way to communicate with their son, who had a sudden onset of autism. Through disney movie quotes they are able to do this. These are real people - not characters - sharing their 20 year journey. It is beautiful and very moving, and gives a glimpse of the heartache, frustrations, difficulties, trimphs, and true unconditional, bottomless love of caring for an autistic or special needs family member.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed reading this unique account of a family's milestones with a child with ASD. As a professional that interacts with this population daily, this book provided a window into the social issues within the immediate family structure that punctuate this diagnosis with the relevance of social difference and simultaneous acute high intelligence while reinforcing the social importance of individuals with this diagnosis. The implication of the author that this population's positive contribution to and ability to communicate with others has been overlooked because it is well camoflauged, is direct, rational and justified with personal accounts backed by their therapist's research. I especially enjoyed being taken on the journey of discovery as this family searches for new methods for connecting with their son as they learn more about his diagnosis.
Kant_read_enough_Liz More than 1 year ago
This book takes you through one family's struggle to reach their son, Owen, who has disappeared after autism appears. This books is hauntingly familiar to my Grandson's story and I am sure many other families will be able to relate to this family as they search to find Owen and bring him back from the darkness of autism. My family has been very fortunate with my Grandson and early intervention has been a saving grace to us along with the many dedicated professionals, similar to the many in this book. Autism is a very broad range diagnosis and covers many symptoms along with varying degrees of challenges. This story of how one family faces those challenges and brings Owen back to us all is just one of the many heroic stories that could be told by many families world wide. If you deal with autism read this you will know your struggles are not just yours!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was an ok book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed the book it was very interesting!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It drives me insane when they don't tell you ANYTHING about the characters or the plot!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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