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Eye Contactby Cammie McGovern
Synopses & Reviews
A young girl has been murdered and the only witness is a child who cannot tell what he saw.
In the woods of a small town, Adam, a nine-year-old autistic boy, is discovered hiding near to the body of his classmate. They both wandered off from the school playground several hours earlier, and now the police are relying on Adam as the only witness to an appalling crime. But he can't tell the police what he saw — or what he heard. Barely verbal on the best of days, Adam has retreated into a silent world that Cara, his mother, knows only too well.
With her community in shock and her son unable to help with the police investigation, Cara tries to decode the puzzling events. Adam has never broken the rules before, so why did he disappear with the little girl during recess? As a single mother, Cara has devoted her life to opening paths of communication between her son and the outside world. Now, she must interpret the changes in Adam's behavior not only to help him through the trauma, but to help the police catch a killer.
Cammie McGovern brings her own experience as the mother of an autistic child to articulate the struggles — and the victories — that consume the lives of parents raising children with special needs. A powerful story of the tangled emotional bond between mother and son, and a thrilling novel of psychological suspense, Eye Contact won't let you go. Lovers of Mystic River will be captivated by this fresh and fascinating journey into the world of a child in crisis and a mother who longs to bring him through unscathed.
"A parent's worst nightmare becomes a crusade for justice in McGovern's dynamite second novel (after 2002's The Art of Seeing), set in an unspecified middle-class suburban community. Shortly after Adam, a nine-year-old boy with autism spectrum disorder, and his friend Amelia, a 10-year-old diagnosed with PDD-NOS (pervasive developmental disorder — not otherwise specified), disappear during recess from Greenwood elementary school, a traumatized Adam turns up next to Amelia's body in the nearby woods. Cara, Adam's 30-year-old single mom, helps the police unlock the clues in Adam's mind to try to identify Amelia's killer. Cara finds surprising assistance from 13-year-old Morgan, who's determined to solve the crime in order to distract authorities from his own guilty secret — accidentally starting a fire in the wetlands his lawyer/environmentalist mom was trying to protect. Meticulously researched and emotionally absorbing, this provocative page-turner also addresses an important issue — how to educate and care for children with special needs. Film rights optioned by Julia Roberts. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Eye Contact is a page-turner and I tore through it in twenty-four hours. But it's more than that — it's also a nuanced, poignant exploration of how all of us, with or without autism, struggle to find our place in the world. Cammie McGovern writes with grace and compassion." Curtis Sittenfeld, author of Prep
"Cammie McGovern makes a satisfying marriage between an exploration of one of modern parenthood's greatest frustrations — autism — and murder mystery. Moreover, she displays considerable insight into the complex, often cruel hierarchies of childhood." Lionel Shriver, author of We Need to Talk About Kevin
"Twin mysteries lie at the heart of this riveting and unforgettable novel: the identity and motives of a child-killer, and the inscrutable workings of an autistic boy's mind. Only a writer like McGovern, whose brilliant gift for storytelling keeps pace with her unflinching emotional acuity, could take on both mysteries and succeed with such power and grace." Julie Orringer, author of How To Breathe Underwater
"This page-turner is a rewarding look into the life of a mother who must discover the truth, even if it ends up hurting her — and her son — in the process." Library Journal
"Tightly woven and gripping, this literary mystery takes several unexpected twists and turns as it builds to the resolution." Booklist
Read Cammie McGovern's posts on the Penguin Blog
Like The Lovely Bones and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Cammie McGovern’s breakout novel is at once a hypnotic thriller and an affecting portrait of people as real as our next-door neighbors. In Eye Contact, two children vanish in the woods behind their elementary school. Hours later, nine-year-old Adam is found alive, the sole witness to his playmate’s murder. But because Adam has autism, he is a silent witness. Only his mother, Cara, can help decode his behavior for the police. As the suspense ratchets, Eye Contact becomes a heart-stopping exploration of the bond between a mother and a very special child.
¬ďEye Contact is a page-turner and I tore through it in twenty-four hours. But i‛s more than that¬—i‛s also a nuanced, poignant exploration of how all of us, with or without autism, struggle to find our place in the world. Cammie McGovern writes with grace and compassion”
¬—Curtis Sittenfeld, author of Prep
"Cammie McGovern makes a satisfying marriage between an exploration of one of modern parenthood's greatest frustrations--autism--and murder mystery. Moreover, she displays considerable insight into the complex, often cruel hierarchies of childhood."
¬—Lionel Shriver, author of We Need to Talk About Kevin
“Once in a blue moon comes a literary thriller so full of our everyday lives that it rocks you back on your heels. This is it! This book. These sweet, funny, heartbreaking characters--these mothers and sons, broken friends and lovers--including one unforgettable little boy whose last gesture in those deadly, mysterious woods recalls our lost innocence. Eye Contact is a thrilling mystery tautly told, and beautifully realized. In it, Cammie McGovern leads us through the shadowlands of our own hometowns where words break down and paranoias proliferate, even as we yearn for one lost moment of fluency. This is a book of secrets that will change you”
¬—Michael Paterniti, New York Times bestselling author of Driving Mr. Albert: A Trip Across America with Einstein's Brain
“Twin mysteries lie at the heart of this riveting and unforgettable novel: the identity and motives of a child-killer, and the inscrutable workings of an autistic bo‛s mind. Only a writer like McGovern, whose brilliant gift for storytelling keeps pace with her unflinching emotional acuity, could take on both mysteries and succeed with such power and grace”
¬—Julie Orringer, author of How To Breathe Underwater
"In the tradition of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, Cammie McGovern delivers a compelling murder mystery that intrigues as much by what it hides as by what it so deftly reveals--the stark, poignant, deeply intimate moments in the lives of people living with autism and those who love them."
¬—Patricia Stacey, author of The Boy Who Loved Windows.
About the Author
Cammie McGovern was a Stegner Fellow at Stanford and received the Nelson Algren Award in short fiction. Her work has been published in Redbook, Seventeen, Glimmer Train, TriQuarterly, and other publications. This is her second novel.
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