Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Book Review: Cowboy and Wills
When three-year-old Wills is first diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, his mom takes him to buy an aquarium. From that point onward, Monica Holloway rushes to the pet store in an effort to comfort—and distract—herself and Wills from the reality of his diagnosis and all that life with autism entails. Fish, a rabbit, hamsters, hermit crabs: eventually, the only animal left to join their home menagerie is a dog.
Cowboy and Wills goes on to tell the story of how the Golden Retriever Cowboy impacts the life of this little boy as he struggles through a world that simultaneously terrifies and excites him. Cowboy, rambunctious as any pup, forces Wills to get dirty and take chances. She becomes Wills's pathway to navigating the confusing world of relationships and new experiences that come with school and life in general. From speaking to his classmates to setting up playdates to sleeping in his own bed, Wills makes tremendous progress with Cowboy by his side.
I like Holloway's voice. She doesn't hide anything, and I like that honesty. As a middle-class reader far from the excesses of California, I felt shock at the enormous amount of money she spent at the pet stores, therapists, private schools, veterinarian and more. But I loved that she felt shock, too. And what parent wouldn't spend that kind of money for her child's well-being? And I loved that Monica saw her own OCD tendencies and recognized that she needed to get her own behaviors under control for her son's sake. (As a side note, I had a really, really hard time reading about Monica's need to pick giant flakes of dead skin off of Cowboy. I really, really wish she'd left that part out of the book.)
The book leaves off when Wills is still a little guy. I hope Monica will write another one in 10 years or so, letting us know his progress. You can't help but want to be assured that everything turns out great for this lovable little guy.
Would you like a copy of this sweet book? I have an extra one to give away, so leave me a comment if you'd like to be in the running for this book! (U.S. only please.)