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« December, 2005 »
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

This book was fine and I don’t have too much to say about it except that it seems even more like “one in a series” than many of the other HP books. Characters are forever reminding other characters of things that happened in previous novels and this particular book doesn’t really end like the others did. There is a fair amount of death and destruction which was what turned me off so much in the last installment. However, there is less in the way of dead children and some of the other parts of the HP universe -- some of the magical stuff, the quirky parts of Hogwarts etc -- are redeeming. Characters are starting to kiss each other which does put this book into the full-blown YA category, but otherwise it’s still pretty much the same.

Making Peace with Autism

Susan Senator had noticed that I have read a lot of books about autism and sent me a copy of her book. It’s the story of her family grappling with the diagnosis and reality of their oldest son Nat’s autism. Senator gives a warts-and-all play by play of her family learning techniques for dealing with their son and learning to have some sort of a happy life despite being a somewhat reluctant non-traditional family. This was the part of the book that I found the most interesting. Senator clearly had some notions of what parenting would be like and what life with her husband would be like, raising a family, living someplace nice, etc. When that all gets thrown on its ear, at a time before autism diagnoses were so prevalent, she has to reinvent the wheel and choose a new path. Her stories of trying to both come to terms with her new life herself, and then learning to become a powerful advocate for the needs of her oldest son and the emotions of her two younger sons is poignant and an interesting read.

Sometimes it’s hard to tell if this book is trying to be a self-help guide for parents in similar circumstances to Senator and her family, or more of a tell-all about the difficulties of raising an autitic child. Sometimes Senator’s raw emotions and venting-sounding frustrations can be hard to read. As someone who doesn’t really contemplate parenthood, I sometimes had a hard time understanding some of her choices and decisions -- giving a bar mitzvah for a child who pretty well seemed to not comprehed it, for example -- but she does a great job explaining herself, so even if at the end you don’t see eye to eye with her, you can still understand where she is coming from. She and her husband both have blogs [hers, his] which are excellent companion reading.

Scent of Evil

I went on a book-reading hiatus during holiday and travel time but carried this one with me. It’s more of the same, small-town cop mysteries but mayor does them one better. There is always a large cast of characters, our same likable gumshoe, and the whodunits are always actual mysteries where even the reader doesn’t know until the end exactly what is going on. Enjoyable.