The Spark: A Mother's Story of Nurturing Genius by Kristine Barnett

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The Spark: A Mother's Story of Nurturing Genius by Kristine Barnett

Category: Autobiography
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Louise Jones
Reviewed by Louise Jones
Summary: A mother's account of raising a son with advanced cognitive abilities and helping him to realise his potential.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 272 Date: May 2013
Publisher: Penguin Fig Tree
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9780241145623

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The tutor stands at the front of the university class, frantically scribbling equations on the large whiteboard in front of him. He is well respected by his students; an expert in several fields, including general relativity, string theory, quantum field theory and biophysics. In fact, he recently unveiled a brand new theory that may put him in line for a Nobel Prize.

Oh, and did I forget to mention that he is just 14 years old?

Young Jake Barnett is an Autistic Savant with remarkable abilities in many cognitive areas. When his IQ was tested using the Stanford Binet method, he maxed out in every category, a feat previously unheard of. Complex mathematical equations that would take experts many years to solve are completed in the two-hour break between his basketball and Xbox sessions. And yet this genius is unable to tie his own shoelaces properly.

The Spark is written by Jake’s Mother, Kristine Barnett, who has been through quite an emotional journey with her son, as his greatest advocate and fiercest supporter. When Jake was initially diagnosed with autism, his parents were told that he would likely never be able to read and write. Luckily for Jake, his tenacious mother refused to lose him to autism, but helped him to channel his passions and achieve the unthinkable.

Kristine is a remarkable woman in her own right. Completely selfless, she helped to create several social and educational clubs for children with autism to help them to achieve their full potential. She did this with her own limited funds and without asking a single penny from those she helped. Things have been far from easy for Kristine, for as well as having a severely autistic child, she had her own health problems to deal with, culminating in a stroke at age 30. She also had another son who had health problems and almost died during his first year. When the credit bubble burst, the family found themselves in severe financial straits and almost lost their home.

This book is an intense, uplifting read, as it shows how a parent’s love can literally perform miracles. It is an emotional rollercoaster as we read of Kristine’s desperation to give her special son a normal life. In one particularly touching scene, overwhelmed by the demands of therapy, she drives her son out to a remote cornfield, where they both lie on the bonnet of the car, listening to jazz and watching the stars. I would recommend this book to all parents, not just those with special needs children. I was not surprised to learn that Warner Bros have acquired the rights to turn the story into a film...

Another inspiring, but very different tale of success despite autism is Lowside of the Road: A Life of Tom Waits by Barney Hoskyns

Buy The Spark: A Mother's Story of Nurturing Genius by Kristine Barnett at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Spark: A Mother's Story of Nurturing Genius by Kristine Barnett at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy The Spark: A Mother's Story of Nurturing Genius by Kristine Barnett at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Spark: A Mother's Story of Nurturing Genius by Kristine Barnett at Amazon.com.


Booklists.jpg The Spark: A Mother's Story of Nurturing Genius by Kristine Barnett is in the Top Ten Autobiographies and Biographies of 2013.

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