Tutu comments: This is a beautifully written, multi-layered story, written in both third person (Charles Marlow) and some 1st person (Emmy Marlow). There are letters, postcards, writing exercises, phone calls--in short, every form of oral communication we have at our disposal. Except....Charles' son Cory has a very severe form of autism and does not communicate with words. His signing becomes another language art that must be mastered by all with whom Cory has contact.
Charles Marlow teaches his high school English students that language will expand their worlds. But linguistic precision cannot help him connect with his autistic son, or with his ex-wife, who abandoned their shared life years before, or even with his college-bound daughter who has just flown the nest. He’s at the end of a road he’s traveled on autopilot for years when a series of events forces him to think back on the lifetime of decisions and in-decisions that have brought him to this point. With the help of an ambitious art student, an Italian-speaking nun, and the memory of a boy in a white suit who inscribed his childhood with both solace and sorrow, Charles may finally be able to rewrite the script of his life.
The story can be difficult to follow at times, but Kallos has a way of bringing us back to the center before we become lost. There is such a rich cast of characters who add to the complexity of the story, keeping us alert to how each fits into the deeply textured landscape of the lives of each member of this family. It is a stunning read: introspective, artistic, lyrical, heart-breaking and definitely one worth reading.
Title: Language Arts
Author: Stephanie Kallos
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (2015) 416 pages
Genre: Literary Fiction
Subject: Autism, family relations
Series: Source: Why did I read this book now?