I’m going to tell you about this book by telling you the story of how I came across Following Ezra. It is not a typical way of reviewing a book, I know, but this is not a typical book either. So I hope you follow along with me a moment while I tell you why this book changed my life and why you should purchase it.
My husband and I are the crazy parents wearing matching Elmo t-shirts to the Supermarket, we were the ones having to hold onto the little Elmos (one plush, one plastic) and sing the Elmo song on random objects in Walmart, but thankfully that period is over. If you ever see two parents excited in glee, clapping because a wheel spun on a passing bicycle, you could imagine us. We live in a different world than most people and at times it’s noticeable. So I came across this book because from a small description in a subject window I could feel an important connection, as two types of the same species can sense each other. I had no choice but to read the story; I was compelled.
The day before I had gotten the books (I was accidentally sent two.) my husband, unaware of anything I review, shows me an article he’s read in the paper he prints, The Wallstreet Journal. He says, “You should read this, this sounds like a good book.” I see the title and I feel some odd sense of disentanglement. I explain that I’m doing a review on that same book. I got two accidentally, (like I said) I told him.. “One for me, one for you.” He hasn’t read his yet.
In the beginning of the story I read Tom and Ezra’s walk as though it were my husband and I on our hot summer afternoons reciting our scripted lines through the park: We shake 1 metal animal, then 2 metal animals and then 3 metal animals before swinging for a few moments and then it’s back to the little red push car. We go up the road, across the street and back home, every day for months. We live in an ultimate routine, one that is mostly scripted. So I had this odd ‘out of body’ experience reading this book; for awhile I didn’t see Ezra, I saw my son. I saw my Judah.
As I write this out, it’s 4am and I finished the story an hour ago. At this time last night, without my husband having read this book, with having argued the point for years, he decides it’s time to talk to someone because we can’t control Judah’s outbursts anymore when things are said not the right way or done differently. We are stumbling over each other to know what is the ‘right way’. When he says this I am reading this book, I make no mention of it. And yet I hold it with a feeling one might hold a Bible, I hold it with this knowing that inside of it is a story of a Father and his son, of the journey they made and his choice to follow his son instead of forcing his son to follow him, as we have ours. I am overwhelmed with this feeling of okay-ness that I hadn’t known I needed. I’m relieved.
I look at him, my son, he’s going to be 3 in a handful of days and he’s asleep in his bed, every so often crying out for unknown reasons. I know in the morning I will do the same things and we will play the same repetitious games of going to retrieve objects that look like objects in his books; but instead of getting robotic after hours of similar activities, I will be thankful. Thankful I had found this book, thankful I am beginning to understand and thankful to be a part of the game we’ve played for three years. I’ll wear my Elmo shirt with the same pride my husband does and I’ll know it’s because of this book and because of Ezra’s story and his Father’s choice to Follow him.
This book is in ways not about a Father with a son with Autism, it is about a parent who loved the person who was given to them, however different. To allow them to grow and become who they are instead of shaping them into what they were expected to be by the world around them. It is a book of Triumph over obstacles, not so much in the sociological sense (though there are those), but the obstacles of ourselves: our fears, our worries, our concerns and our expectations of our children.
Tom Fields-Meyer is a wonderful writer and with this story you will laugh, cry tears of joy and understand a little more when you might see a parent trying to pry a child off a building. Following Ezra is as extraordinary as Ezra himself and hopefully you will follow this review to a place where you can read it.
You can buy Following Ezra for $9.48 on Amazon.
I received samples for the purpose of reviewing. Opinions expressed are my own or my families and are not influenced by any form of compensation. Take it or leave it. Click here to view my full acknowledgment policy.