Facebook has been an odd experience for most people that didn’t grow up on it. I’ve happily connected with some long lost friends and marvel how having not seen many of these folks for decades– we now have a glimpse at each other’s daily routines.
One such connection is Debra Ginsberg. I grew up in a very small community where many of us knew each other since preschool. There was also a good chance that our parents went to school together as well. So when anyone new arrived – it was a big deal. I can’t even remember now when Debra arrived — but I recall that she was smart, enjoyed our English teacher (Mrs. Skolnick)…it was good to have a fresh perspective.
So when one of our classmates suggested I “friend” Debra– I was game. “Wow, Debra…what happened to her?” I asked my husband — who gave me an appropriately blank look and remains somewhat suspect of all things FB. The last years of high school for me are now a blur. While some recall their high school year’s with great fondness, truth be told, I couldn’t wait for it to be over. What I’ve discovered in the last few weeks, is that Debra is a gifted writer, one of my favorite people to follow on FB (her posts are funny and thankfully go beyond the inane minutiae that clutters so much of cyberspace).
Debra’s acclaimed book Raising Blaze: A Mother and Son’s Long, Strange Journey into Autism has been called an “extraordinary view of rearing and education a child with special needs” (Publisher Weekly) and Library Journal concluded the book is a “poignant and compelling story of raising a child with undefinable disability centering on emotional/behavioral issues.”
Debra mentioned that Blaze, now in his 20s, has written his own book, Episodes: My Life as I See It (to be published this September by Roaring Brook Press). The book sat next to my computer for weeks – there was the momentary panic that I perhaps misplaced the book (this is also the time of year when every new picturebook for fall arrives for consideration). Happily I found it and put it in my July 4th reading pile. Finally the sun came out in the Northeast, I got to read Episodes. Blaze sees the world as “episodes” with a cast of characters, notable quotes…I loved the concept and enjoyed getting to know Blaze and how he navigates his way through school, friendships, crushes, and his relationship with his extended (and clearly very supportive) family.
While this is targeted as a YA book, I have a sense the audience for this book will also include parents. While I was reading Blaze’s book, I had…count them…five teenage boys in my house. I grew up with boys and raising my own has been such a wonderful adventure…but it’s clear that they are wired differently. As I was getting to read Blaze’s inner thoughts…my exchanges with my sons, their friend, and my nephews just made me want to see their own internal dialogues. My 13 year old nephew Noah is very quite–and yet you know there’s so much going on there. I started having my own “pop up bubble” moments where I was imagining what each boy was thinking–especially as I was playing the role of “annoying mom” nagging about abandoned dirty plates, wet towels on the sofas…
I kept thinking there was going to be a major trauma in Episodes…some huge conflict, disaster…but the truth is Bluze is making his way in the world just fine…finding his way. I’m happy I got to know Blaze–and enjoyed his takes on life. I love that he is able to articulate what he wants: to be treated no differently…and oh yes..he really wants a girlfriend (don’t they all?)
To visit with Blaze, visit his website, blazeginsberg.com…where he is wonderfully interviewed by Debra. I found these video clips to be extremely satisifying…getting to put a face and voice to the young man we meet in Episodes. I’m now eager, of course, to see what the next episodes will bring!