The Spark by Kristine Barnett

Subtitle: A Mother’s Story of Nurturing, Genius, and Autism

Published: 2013

Genre: nonfiction memoir

Length: 288 pages

Interest: I saw it reviewed in a Simple Homeschool post and thought it sounded interesting. I was looking for some nonfiction, and hadn’t read any homeschool inspirational books in a while. Guess it was time for this book.

Summary: The author narrates her life as the mother of Jake. He was diagnosed with autism at age three and the experts basically gave up on him. Kristine did not. She saw there was more to Jake and worked to draw the spark of his life and interests out by focusing on what he did well instead of what he couldn’t do. She also began offering her approach to other autistic kids, who made great strides. Jake came out of his shell and was able to enter mainstream public school. Unfortunately, he was bored. So, Kristine used her energy and creativity to come up with ways to stimulate Jake – she sent him to college instead of third grade. She also tried very hard to ensure Jake made some typical childhood memories, hanging out with friends and family.

Final thoughts: I loved the message of this book. Don’t focus on what you or your child can’t do. Focus on what you can do so you work with joy and desire. Then, learning isn’t a struggle. Kristine was able to do amazing things with her children, two of which were pretty much written off by the experts. Now I’m trying to figure out how to do the same type of things in our homeschool adventures.

The tone of the book had conflicting elements, though. On the one hand, Jake went from nonverbal at three to college classes at 10. (Jake is a special level of genius, though, so your results may vary.) On the other hand, there was another severely disable child and a third “normal” child who seemed to be ignored, but the book’s focus was on Jake so that could just be editing. The other problem I developed had to do with the amount of work and time Kristine invested in her children. On the one hand, it was aspirational what someone can do if you provide the right environment. On the other hand, I question my ability to devote as much of my time to my children as Kristine did. Didn’t she ever sleep? As you can see, I’m torn. I’m choosing to focus on the message to fan the spark of interest in my children.

Title comes from: Kristine tried to nourish the spark of learning in her children

Reading challenges fulfilled: 76/100 in my Finally to 100 Challenge

If you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can click on the cover image to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!


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