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The Spark: A Mother's Story of Nurturing Genius


The Spark: A Mother's Story of Nurturing Genius Cover

ISBN13: 9780812993370
ISBN10: 0812993373
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Kristine Barnett’s son Jacob has an IQ higher than Einstein’s, a photographic memory, and he taught himself calculus in two weeks. At nine he started working on an original theory in astrophysics that experts believe may someday put him in line for a Nobel Prize, and at age twelve he became a paid researcher in quantum physics. But the story of Kristine’s journey with Jake is all the more remarkable because his extraordinary mind was almost lost to autism. At age two, when Jake was diagnosed, Kristine was told he might never be able to tie his own shoes.

The Spark is a remarkable memoir of mother and son. Surrounded by “experts” at home and in special ed who tried to focus on Jake’s most basic skills and curtail his distracting interests — moving shadows on the wall, stars, plaid patterns on sofa fabric — Jake made no progress, withdrew more and more into his own world, and eventually stopped talking completely. Kristine knew in her heart that she had to make a change. Against the advice of her husband, Michael, and the developmental specialists, Kristine followed her instincts, pulled Jake out of special ed, and began preparing him for mainstream kindergarten on her own.

Relying on the insights she developed at the daycare center she runs out of the garage in her home, Kristine resolved to follow Jacob’s “spark” — his passionate interests. Why concentrate on what he couldn’t do? Why not focus on what he could? This basic philosophy, along with her belief in the power of ordinary childhood experiences (softball, picnics, s’mores around the campfire) and the importance of play, helped Kristine overcome huge odds.

The Barnetts were not wealthy people, and in addition to financial hardship, Kristine herself faced serious health issues. But through hard work and determination on behalf of Jake and his two younger brothers, as well as an undying faith in their community, friends, and family, Kristine and Michael prevailed. The results were beyond anything anyone could have imagined.

Dramatic, inspiring, and transformative, The Spark is about the power of love and courage in the face of overwhelming obstacles, and the dazzling possibilities that can occur when we learn how to tap the true potential that lies within every child, and in all of us.


The Spark is about the transformative power of a mother’s unconditional love. If you have a child who’s ‘different’ — and who doesn’t? — you won’t be able to put it down.” Sylvia Nasar, author of A Beautiful Mind and Grand Pursuit


ldquo;The Spark describes in glowing terms the profound intensity with which a mother can love her child.” Andrew Solomon, author of The Noonday Demon and Far from the Tree


“Every parent and teacher should read this fabulous book!” Temple Grandin, author of Thinking in Pictures and co-author of The Autistic Brain

About the Author

Kristine Barnett lives in Indiana with her husband, Michael, and their children. In 1996 she founded Acorn Hill Academy, a daycare serving local families. She and Michael currently run a charitable community center for autistic and special-needs children and their families called Jacob’s Place.

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Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

writermala, October 3, 2013 (view all comments by writermala)
The Spark is a book, which like Jake's I.Q, is off the ratings chart for me. I was so moved that I literally couldn't put it down till I finished it. This is the true story of Kristine Burnett fighting the system and finding the spark that makes her Autistic son Jacob tick. This spark is in fact a blazing fire and by focusing on what Jake CAN do instead of what he CANNOT Kris brings Jake out of his shell. The story is not just about Jake's phenomenal achievements; it is about a mother's love. A love which nurtures her child and let's him, and others like him, be a child - not totally involved in therapy. Kristin says, she wrote this book to share her son with the world. I for one am really thankful that she did. The world is a better place because of this book.
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code7r, August 11, 2013 (view all comments by code7r)
I am in the vast minority when it comes to this book. I, like the author, am a mother of two kids on the autism spectrum who are both profoundly gifted. I was excited when this book arrived in the mail.

One of the reasons I didn't care for this book is that it was too much about the mother and not enough about her son. I think reading a story that was just about Jake would had been captivating. It is very impressive what he has been able to accomplish in his young life and it is going to be impressive where he goes from her.

I think that the author has some great ways of helping her son, but that doesn't mean they are the only ways and everyone else is wrong. This is what the author seems to want you to think. Jake was lucky that his mother ran a day care so that he was around kids all day long. For an autistic child, this could really help. But most parents of autistic children do not have that.

Some of the things made me question her ability to parent, such as the time when she had no heat and no food for her family during a winter.

There are certainly aspects to this book that I liked and wished were more fleshed out, or at least written separately: One: make the story all about Jake. Two: how the author's own health issues learned to adjust to her own struggles and how they affected her family. Three: having her focus just on the "therapies" she has tried (those she came up with herself) and go into detail about them. I think that the third would be invaluable!

I guess the thing that bothered me is that I should be able to relate to her because our children seem to have similar diagnosis, but I didn't. As far as I know, children with autism cannot be "cured" of it. They can learn to adapt more socially and some really surprise us with what they can do! For me, my children aren't disabled, but being on the spectrum is just part of who they are. Will they struggle in life? Yes, but everyone has their struggle in life... some are just more obvious.

**I received this book from Goodreads First Reads in exchange for a review. This did not affect my review in any way.**
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Product Details

A Mother's Story of Nurturing Genius
Barnett, Kristine
Random House
Publication Date:
9.53 x 6.35 x 1 in 1.06 lb

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Related Subjects

Biography » General
Biography » Medical
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Featured Titles » Biography
Health and Self-Help » Child Psychology » Autism
Health and Self-Help » Psychology » Autism

The Spark: A Mother's Story of Nurturing Genius Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$9.95 In Stock
Product details 272 pages Random House - English 9780812993370 Reviews:
"Review" by , The Spark is about the transformative power of a mother’s unconditional love. If you have a child who’s ‘different’ — and who doesn’t? — you won’t be able to put it down.”
"Review" by , ldquo;The Spark describes in glowing terms the profound intensity with which a mother can love her child.”
"Review" by , “Every parent and teacher should read this fabulous book!”
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