I am beyond excited to introduce you to Ido Kedar’s In Two Worlds, a beautifully written, powerful novel about life with non-verbal autism.
Some months ago, I teased you by telling you that I was helping edit an extraordinary novel and that I would let you know as soon as the book was published. Today is that day. I am incredibly excited to introduce you to In Two Worlds, by Ido Kedar. It’s currently available only in hard copy, but I understand that it will soon be available in e-book form too, both on Amazon and Smashwords.
In Two Worlds tells the story of Anthony, a boy with non-verbal autism. When the book begins, seven-year-old Anthony is completely locked-in: He understands everything around him, but is unable to communicate and has only limited control over his body. His loving parents are doing everything they can for him, but only Anthony knows what the expert advice and programs fail to comprehend — and therefore to treat — which is that there is a complete human being buried under the compulsions and trapped in the silence. Meanwhile, Anthony’s behaviors upset the balance at home and keep him trapped in an education program aimed at children who are incapable of learning.
Over the next 300 or so pages, this elegantly written book takes the reader through the next decade in Anthony’s life, as he struggles against his own physical limitations and the systemic constraints under which he’s forced to operate, and then, at long last, as he is introduced to a new program that brings him out of the world of Autismland and places him firmly in real life. In Two Worlds is beautifully structured, because as Anthony’s world expands, the reader’s view of his world expands too. That is, while the book is almost invariably written from Anthony’s viewpoint, as he matures and begins to see and understand what other people are doing and experiencing we, the reader, also begin to understand what drives those around him.
Each character in the book is exquisitely delineated. Even though it’s apparent that some characters exist to represent a point of view within the world of autism (autistic children, educators, family members, experts), all are well-rounded individuals, rather than cardboard ciphers. In this regard, it’s important to appreciate that Ido hasn’t written a preachy polemic; he’s written a rich, full, well-rounded novel — although don’t be surprised if you come away having learned important things about autism and about the world in which Americans with disabilities, and their loving, frustrated, frightened families, function.
I’m actually scared to give away too much of the plot, lest I spoil some of the wonders of this first-time novel. Instead, I’ll finish this review by introducing you to the book’s author, Ido Kedar, and by focusing on the book’s stylistic beauty, which is both a by-product of Ido’s physical limitations and a testament to his skill as a writer. [Read more…]