Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Harmony by Carolyn Parkhurst

Hardcover, 288 pages
Published August 2nd 2016 by Pamela Dorman Books
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Dogs of Babel, a taut, emotionally wrenching story of how a seemingly "normal" family could become desperate enough to leave everything behind and move to a "family camp" in New Hampshire--a life-changing experience that alters them forever.

How far will a mother go to save her family? The Hammond family is living in DC, where everything seems to be going just fine, until it becomes clear that the oldest daughter, Tilly, is developing abnormally--a mix of off-the-charts genius and social incompetence. Once Tilly--whose condition is deemed undiagnosable--is kicked out of the last school in the area, her mother Alexandra is out of ideas. The family turns to Camp Harmony and the wisdom of child behavior guru Scott Bean for a solution. But what they discover in the woods of New Hampshire will push them to the very limit. Told from the alternating perspectives of both Alexandra and her younger daughter Iris (the book's Nick Carraway), this is a unputdownable story about the strength of love, the bonds of family, and how you survive the unthinkable.

My Thoughts…

I have a few friends who have children who have been diagnosed with different types of Autism.   This book hit home with the stories of the ticks, the behaviors, and the reactions of those around these children.   I could picture my friends and their families looking for help in non-medical ways and falling in with Scott Bean.     

The way Tilly’s family treated her, the way her behavior affected the rest of the family, and the way the public reacted to Tilly is so incredible realistic.    The interactions between Tilly and her sister Iris were my favorite.   While the frustration is understandable on Iris’ side I really enjoyed how she protected, calmed Tilly down, and reacted to others where Tilly was concerned.     Their sister bond was so evident and strong.
 Scott Bean gave me chills from the very first time his name was mentioned.     I was hoping that where he was heading was wrong but with each interaction those chills remained.    My biggest worry was his treatment of the children at Harmony Camp.   The camp was definitely not what the families expected but I can see that there were some improvements in the kids that needed that type of facility but the idea of that camp never set right with me.

The ending was unexpected but perfect.    Carolyn Parkhurst obviously did her homework on Autism and Autistic families.    I look forward to reading so much more from her.  

Book Links

“Alternately heartbreaking and hopeful, [HARMONY] beautifully sums up the love between parents and children.”—PureWow

“From the first sentences of this unusual and compelling novel…pages turn with the momentum of an emotional thriller…Suspenseful, moving, and full of inspiration and insight about parenting a child with autism.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Parkhurst’s latest explores family bonds, modern-day parenting, and the the foundations of cult-like groups, all with nuance and a liberal dose of dark humor. . . Parkhurst’s memorable tale features a complex cast of characters and a series of conundrums with no easy answers. Book-discussion groups will be particularly interested in the tale’s numerous deftly explored gray areas.”—Publishers Weekly

“Gorgeously written and patently original, HARMONY takes us intimately into the lives of families with children who are not neurotypical — from the complex perspectives of the parent, the sibling, and the child herself.  Anyone who has ever encountered a child on the spectrum will come away with a new understanding and empathy after reading this novel.”—Jodi Picoult, New York Timesbestselling author of Leaving Time

“Carolyn Parkhurst has composed the perfect blend of humor, suspense, and compassion in this fascinating tale of a family taking a crazy risk to save themselves. I read it in one giant gulp—HARMONY is absolutely riveting.”—Jami Attenberg, New York Timesbestselling author of The Middlesteins and Saint Mazie

“Every child has the potential to break a parent’s heart. In this gripping, timely novel, Carolyn Parkhurst follows the Hammond family as they give up everything to build a community that will allow both their daughters to thrive, an experiment that tests their resilience—and ultimately reveals the healing power of love.” —Kim Edwards, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Memory Keeper’s Daughter  

“Quite simply stunning. In this page-turning novel about one small family, Carolyn Parkhurst explores the complicated business of “normal,” and the distances parents will go in search of what their children need. Compelling, thought provoking, surprising, heartbreaking and ultimately uplifting, HARMONY is a novel that will change the way you think. I am so glad to have read this book.”—Meg Waite Clayton, New York Times bestselling author of The Race for Paris and The Wednesday Sisters

“In HARMONY, the fiercely talented Carolyn Parkhurst fuses compelling social drama with riveting storytelling. Without an ounce of sugarcoating, the author leads readers into Camp Harmony—transfixing them until the startling conclusion.” —Randy Susan Meyers, author of Accidents of Marriage

“Wildly ambitious and eerily unsettling, this is a novel that burns with love, wisdom and rare grace. I loved this book.” —Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of Is This Tomorrow and Pictures of You

“Fast-paced and heartfelt, HARMONY asks the questions: What’s it worth to be normal? And, is being not-so-normal such a bad thing? I will follow Carolyn Parkhurst anywhere.” —Helen Ellis, New York Times bestselling author of American Housewife

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