"Living Through Charlie named to Kirkus Reviews Best of 2012 Indie"!

Living Through Charlie - Best of Kirkus Reviews 2012 

Book Reviews

 Amazon.com - Rebecca Woods

"Rebecca Woods offers a modern-day comedy of manners with a familiar story made special through her wit, compassion, and insight... The time I spent reading "Living with Charlie" flew by as I looked in on a family in chaos. Woods provides a whole new meaning to the word "cope," not with just an exceptional child, but with ourselves and the world we live in."- Eileen Granfors, Author/Blogger, Amazon "Vine Voice" Top 500 Reviewer



The hypercompetitive rituals and other inanities of elite suburban preschools get a merciless but droll dissection in Woods’ debut novel.

Meg Norton, stay-at-home mom of two, strives to shoehorn her son Charlie into a prestigious preschool even though she knows he isn’t ready for the transition. The decision to keep him home isn’t hers to make: In her affluent Southern California community, interview tutors for kindergarten admission and waiting lists for preschool are as ordinary as PB&J. Moreover, her husband, Chuck, and wealthy father-in-law attended the Norwich School, which they continue to financially support as alumni. But Charlie’s “interview” isn’t a success—he throws a tantrum over his shoes—and he’s turned down by Norwich administrators. In fact, it takes little for Charlie to have a meltdown; bunchy socks, the wrong drinking cup, even humming can trigger tears and screams. Meg’s endless problems with her son spill into other areas of her life—isolating himself with work, Chuck seems to hold her responsible for Charlie’s oddities; the other moms at play dates and art classes make her feel outcast; even her best friend Dana seems to have transformed into the kind of “A-list mom” they previously mocked. After Charlie gets into Norwich on his third attempt, Meg’s troubles multiply and turn far more serious. She must acknowledge one secret in order to reveal another that will change her son’s life and her own. Woods crafts classroom and backyard scenes into keen, sly takes on the world the Norton family inhabits. Meg makes an ideal medium for this tale. A perpetual outsider, she skewers with delightful off-beat humor all that comes her way—bridal-themed birthday parties, kindergarten graduation ceremonies and school drop-off etiquette. What saves her from sanctimony is that she’s too smart to be unaware of her own complicity and her desperate desire to fit into a world she loathes. She’s astute enough to finally admit, too, that the distance between her problem child and herself may be less than she thinks: “We both have things to learn.”

An irreverent but stylish critique of a privileged social milieu.

Book Review: Living Through Charlie

While it reads and is labeled as a novel, parents of special needs kids will know that Living Through Charlie is a true story, and that people really did live through it.

“I pull a plastic container off the bottom shelf and in it is Charlie’s orange cup.  I transfer milk from the wrong cup to the right one and set it in front of Charlie.”  Honestly, how many special needs parents haven’t done that before?

Living Through Charlie tells the story of Meg Norton, a wife and mother who dreams of the perfect family -- complete with a white picket fence in sunny Southern California, with kids who go to an elite private pre-school.  What Meg didn’t expect was the mom-eat-mom mentality and that things her son, Charlie, are only getting worse.

Charlie’s behavior begins to alienate the other moms at the posh pre-school, and Meg has trouble balancing her picture of perfection, her marriage, and her son’s need to march to his own beat.

What many people will realize from the first pages is that Charlie has a form of autism called Asperger’s syndrome, and the struggles of coming to terms with the diagnosis and associated behaviors, as well as the battle with other parents who just don’t simply understand and accompanying feelings of isolation are all things many parents of special needs children go through.

Through Charlie, Meg learns to love and accept him the way he is -- and to do the same for herself.  Her drive to keep her family together and save her son from the toxic world of private school will have the audience cheering.

Living Through Charlie might not represent every family dealing with autism, but it does cover a lot of common ground, and the story both acts as a support for those families and gives other families an inside look, with the hopes of promoting awareness and compassion.  Author Rebecca Woods tells the story with a healthy dose of humor and with a very human approach.  It’s at times witty and other times sweet, and always very real.

Cara Batema, Reviewer


Midwest Book Review:

The perfect life we envision for ourselves is a fantasy, and good parents realize that. "Living Through Charlie" is a story of Meg, trying to deal with her son Charlie's odd behavior which is unlike the other kids. Dealing with her otherwise seemingly picturesque life, she deals with suburbia and the pains that go with it all. An intriguing read of parenthood and the many challenges a parent can face with a kid with unique challenges, "Living Through Charlie" is worthy reading for those seeking a novel of suburbia.
Reviewer’s Choice

John Burroughs, Reviewer


Word Joy Book Look: Living Through Charlie

Rebecca Woods offers a modern-day comedy of manners with a familiar story made special through her wit, compassion, and insight. "Living through Charlie" is set in a rich and snobby Southern California community where getting a child into the "right" pre-school is everything. It's the family's reputation, the child's future, the mother's parenting that are on the line. Unfortunately, for Meg, although her daughter Annie has always performed as a highly gifted child, little Charlie is not simply non-verbal. He is attuned to routines, objects, and his own world of dinosaurs. None of this sits well with his father,Chuck, who blames Meg for babying the boy. The in-laws too judge her by the behavior of a four-year-old. Meg is lucky enough to have her own mom's less judgmental mother to take the pressure off sometimes. But help from Grandma is not enough. Things go from bad to worse for Meg and Charlie. Friendships fall apart, Meg begins speaking out about all the other moms, and Chardonnay becomes her new best friend. The time I spent reading "Living with Charlie" flew by as I looked in on a family in chaos. Woods provides a whole new meaning to the word "cope," not with just an exceptional child, but with ourselves and the world we live in.

Eileen Granfors, Reviewer