Raising Cubby: A Father and Son's Adventures with Asperger's, Trains, Tractors, and High Explosives

Raising Cubby: A Father and Son's Adventures with Asperger's, Trains, Tractors, and High Explosives

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by John Elder Robison
     
 

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The slyly funny, sweetly moving memoir of an unconventional dad’s relationship with his equally offbeat son—complete with fast cars, tall tales, homemade explosives, and a whole lot of fun and trouble 
 
John Robison was not your typical dad. Diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome at the age of forty, he approached fatherhood as

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Overview

The slyly funny, sweetly moving memoir of an unconventional dad’s relationship with his equally offbeat son—complete with fast cars, tall tales, homemade explosives, and a whole lot of fun and trouble 
 
John Robison was not your typical dad. Diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome at the age of forty, he approached fatherhood as a series of logic puzzles and practical jokes. Instead of a speech about the birds and the bees, he told his son, Cubby, that he'd bought him at the Kid Store—and that the salesman had cheated him by promising Cubby would “do all chores.” While other parents played catch with their kids, John taught Cubby to drive the family's antique Rolls-Royce. Still, Cubby seemed to be turning out pretty well, at least until school authorities decided that he was dumb and stubborn—the very same thing John had been told as a child. Did Cubby have Asperger’s too? The answer was unclear.

One thing was clear, though: By the time he turned seventeen, Cubby had become a brilliant and curious chemist—smart enough to make military-grade explosives and bring federal agents calling. With Cubby facing a felony trial—and up to sixty years in prison—both father and son were forced to take stock of their lives, finally accepting that being “on the spectrum” is both a challenge and a unique gift.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Robison's third book starts with a bang—his description of the "malicious explosion" created by his teenage Cubby that has the boy, who has Asperger's syndrome, looking at 60 years in prison, is as disconcerting as it is captivating. Sadly, much of the book drops off from there as the author segues into the personal story of his own transition from adolescence to adulthood. While the social problems he encounters because he, too, has Aspergers, are appealing, the stories of his business dealings lack the appeal of Cubby's journey. The tales of bringing up his son, which are relayed in 55 short chapter-length vignettes and told in the accessible prose that made his book Look Me in the Eye, a New York Times bestseller, are decidedly hit or miss. For instance, "Tuck-in Time," which simply explains that kids like bedtime stories, gives little insight into Aspergers or to Cubby's personality. On the other hand, "Cubby Versus the School" and "Reading" give a personal and informative perspective on the challenges kids with Cubby's condition face when it comes to acceptance and learning. The story picks up in the last 100 pages, as Cubby, a brilliant kid with an inquisitive scientific mind, creates explosive chemistry experiments that bring charges from the local DA. With the ensuing investigation and trial, Cubby and the author are drawn into a crazy world that threatens to tear apart their already delicate lives and allows the book to live up to the promise of its exciting first five pages. Agent: Christopher Schelling, Selectric Artists. (Mar.)
From the Publisher
“Charming and wise…Part parenting guide, part courtroom drama, part catalog of the travails and surprising joys of life with the high-functioning form of autism called Asperger’s syndrome, this memoir will offer all parents—but particularly fathers—a lot to think about. That its author was almost 40 when he learned he had Asperger’s…and that he eventually learned his son had the condition as well, make their story more remarkable, but do nothing to diminish its relevance even for readers with no personal experience of autism...[Robison’s] deadpan humor [is] in evidence throughout... Touching, sympathetic, and often insightful.”
New York Times

“Robison ... sheds some light on how having Asperger’s helped him cultivate an outlaw style of parenting...by turns hilarious, poignant, weird, shocking, and inspiring...This book will make you laugh, and make you think about how to parent a child who doesn’t fit into the neat categories we expect our children to occupy.”
Parents.com

“How does a man who lacks a sense of empathy and an ability to read nonverbal cues learn to be a father? And how does a man with Asperger’s learn to recognize the same symptoms in his own child? (A key element in the book is Robison’s son’s own diagnosis, and Robison’s reaction to his having missed seeing the signs for as long as he had.) In many ways, this is a traditional father-and-son memoir, but the added element of Asperger’s gives the story a stronger emotional core: when Robison and his wife separated, for example, he realized he had been misreading a lot of what had been going on between them. It’s a story of a man learning to be a parent, yes, but it’s also—and perhaps more importantly—the story of a man discovering, as an adult, who he really is.”
Booklist

“John Elder Robison is one of my autism super heroes because he bravely brings humor and humility to the heart and soul of the taboo and unexpected corners of life lived with autism.  His new book, Raising Cubby, is more than a memoir about a father and son bound by their Asperger syndrome. It’s a story that reminds us how precious and precarious the parent child relationship is and how beautiful our lives can be when we are share that ride together. Raising Cubby is Robison’s best work yet.”
Liane Holliday-Willey, coauthor of Pretending To Be Normal: Living with Asperger Syndrome

“Funny and moving...A warmhearted, appealing account by a masterful storyteller."
Kirkus Reviews

“Robison's third book starts with a bang—his description of the 'malicious explosion' created by his teenage Cubby that has the boy, who has Asperger's syndrome, looking at 60 years in prison, is as disconcerting as it is captivating....With the ensuing investigation and trial, Cubby and the author are drawn into a crazy world that threatens to tear apart their already delicate lives.”
Publishers Weekly

“John Elder Robison has written two books on his experience with Asperger's syndrome: Look Me in the Eye and Be Different. In Raising Cubby, he brings his warmth, intelligence and humor to an equally personal subject: his own son.”
Shelf Awareness

Kirkus Reviews
A father reflects on the "tumultuous father-son journey" that he and his son have shared. In this alternately funny and moving memoir, a follow-up to his 2007 best-seller, Look Me in the Eye, Robison (Be Different, 2012, etc.) discusses how he dealt with the joys and challenges of fatherhood. As he relates, these were exacerbated by his own social inadequacies and those of his son, both of whom are Aspergian and suffer from "blindness to the nonverbal signals of others." The author reveals his thought processes as he struggled to share his painfully arrived-at social insights with his son in order to help him navigate a fulfilling life. Though his early life was rocky, Robison became a successful electrical engineer. Although he had not completed high school, he worked on sound and lighting effects for Kiss and other top rock bands of the 1970s. Later, he designed computer games before opening his own business restoring and servicing high-end European cars. When his son was born in 1990, fatherhood proved to be more of a challenge. Beginning with his efforts to understand why his baby was crying, he describes the trial-and-error problem-solving approach that he used to compensate for his inability to intuit social signals. In 2007, his 17-year-old son, who had a basement chemistry lab, was arrested for "possessing explosives with intent to harm people or property." Although he was ultimately exonerated, Robison believes that targeting his son was an example of political grandstanding by the prosecution and a failure of the justice system. A warmhearted, appealing account by a masterful storyteller.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780307884862
Publisher:
Crown/Archetype
Publication date:
03/12/2013
Sold by:
Random House
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
384
Sales rank:
175,855
File size:
3 MB

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
“How does a man who lacks a sense of empathy and an ability to read nonverbal cues learn to be a father? And how does a man with Asperger’s learn to recognize the same symptoms in his own child? (A key element in the book is Robison’s son’s own diagnosis, and Robison’s reaction to his having missed seeing the signs for as long as he had.) In many ways, this is a traditional father-and-son memoir, but the added element of Asperger’s gives the story a stronger emotional core: when Robison and his wife separated, for example, he realized he had been misreading a lot of what had been going on between them. It’s a story of a man learning to be a parent, yes, but it’s also—and perhaps more importantly—the story of a man discovering, as an adult, who he really is.”
Booklist

"John Elder Robison is one of my autism super heroes because he bravely brings humor and humility to the heart and soul of the taboo and unexpected corners of life lived with autism.  His new book, Raising Cubby, is more than a memoir about a father and son bound by their Asperger syndrome. It’s a story that reminds us how precious and precarious the parent child relationship is and how beautiful our lives can be when we are share that ride together. Raising Cubby is Robison’s best work yet.”
Liane Holliday-Willey, coauthor of Pretending To Be Normal: Living with Asperger Syndrome
 
“John Robison's skill as a master storyteller is nowhere more evident than in his third book, Raising Cubby. This heartwarming memoir takes us on the colorful journey of John and his son, Jack (aka Cubby), as they learn about the world together. At turns funny and poignant, it is, above all, the story of the powerful love of a father for his son. Told in the immensely entertaining and engaging style of John Elder Robison, it should be on everyone’s must-read list.”
Lori S. Shery, President and Founder, ASPEN®

"Funny and moving...A warmhearted, appealing account by a masterful storyteller."
Kirkus Reviews

"Robison's third book starts with a bang—his description of the 'malicious explosion' created by his teenage Cubby that has the boy, who has Asperger's syndrome, looking at 60 years in prison, is as disconcerting as it is captivating....With the ensuing investigation and trial, Cubby and the author are drawn into a crazy world that threatens to tear apart their already delicate lives."
Publishers Weekly

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