THE RIDE TOGETHER

Reviewed by Kathy O’Grady, Senior Psychologist

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Anyone who has had the experience of being the sibling of a family member with an intellectual disability will find this a captivating and affirming read. This book puts into words and pictures the feelings and experiences many siblings have across the lifespan.

The ride together is an extraordinary family memoir told in alternating chapters of comics and text (Paul Karasik is an award-winning graphic artist whose work appears in The New Yorker and Nickelodeon Magazine.). With a narrative that stretches over fifty years, Judy’s words unite and relate the story of their family, their brother David, and the history of their relationship with him. The reader comes to understand the responsibility this has involves and the meaning that his life gives to theirs.

During the course of the story David grows from childhood to adulthood, but remains dependent on others. The story deals with life transitions, such as leaving home, and the impact of this for David and his siblings. Characteristically, David gives a narrative from which his siblings glean insight into his coping processes. What he understands of life and death no one can truly tell, yet David walks through his days with dignity and, as we learn, endurance.

At first glance the adventure of this book is its brilliant experimental form—the story of a brother with autism told in a style that is as unusual as the subject matter. But The ride together also gives us a privileged insider’s view of a family, one that may appear strange to some, like many families with disabilities, and reveals a group of people whose acceptance of what life has dealt them helps them persevere through good and bad times. This is an authentic emotional, yet not sentimental, journey that provides a remarkable portrait of a family with a difference.

As well as being important for siblings, this book should be read by support staff , especially those involved in sib-links or sib-shops, anyone with a special interest in autism or Asperger Syndrome, and those interested in graphic portrayal of a serious topic that can also be full of humour.

THE RIDE TOGETHER: A brother and sister’s memoir of autism in the family by Paul Karasik and Judy Karasik (????), Washington Square Press, ???? €20-00- ISBN 0-7434-2336-4.

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