The slyly funny, sweetly moving memoir of an unconventional dad’s relationship with his equally offbeat son—complete with fast cars, tall tales, homemade explosives, and a whole lot of fun and trouble
Misfit, truant, delinquent. John Elder Robison was never a model child, and he wasn’t a model dad either. Diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome at the age of forty, he approached fatherhood as a series of logic puzzles and practical jokes. When his son Cubby asked, “Where did I come from?” John said he’d bought him at the “kid store” and that the salesman had cheated him by promising Cubby would “do all chores.” He read electrical engineering manuals to Cubby at bedtime. He told Cubby that wizards turned children into stone when they misbehaved.
Still, John got the basics right. He made sure Cubby never drank diesel fuel at the automobile repair shop he owns. And he gave him a life of adventure. By the time Cubby was ten, he’d steered a Coast Guard cutter, driven a freight locomotive, and run an antique Rolls Royce into a fence.
The one thing John couldn’t figure out was what to do when school authorities decided that Cubby was dumb and stubborn—the very same thing he had been told as a child. Did Cubby have Asperger’s too? The answer was unclear. One thing was clear, though. By the time he turned seventeen, Cubby had become a brilliant chemist—smart enough to make military-grade explosives and bring state and federal agents calling. Afterward, with Cubby facing up to sixty years in prison, father and son were forced to take stock of their lives and finally coming to terms with the fact that being “on the spectrum” was both a challenge and a unique gift.
By turns tender, suspenseful, and hilarious, this is more than just the story of raising Cubby. It’s the story of a father and son who grow up together.
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