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Extended Audio Sample The Anti-Romantic Child: A Story of Unexpected Joy, by Priscilla Gilman Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (370 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Priscilla Gilman Narrator: Priscilla Gilman Publisher: HarperCollins Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Priscilla Gilman had the greatest expectations for the birth of her first child. Growing up in New York among writers and artists, Gilman experienced childhood as a whirlwind of imagination and creative play. Later, as a student and scholar of Wordsworth, she embraced the poet's romantic view of children—and eagerly anticipated her son's birth, certain that he, too, would come "trailing clouds of glory." But her romantic vision would not be fulfilled in the ways she dreamed. Though Benjamin was an extraordinary child, the signs of his remarkable precocity were also manifestations of a developmental disorder that would require intensive therapies and special schooling, and would dramatically alter the course Priscilla had imagined for her family.

In The Anti-Romantic Child, a memoir full of lyricism and light, Gilman explores the complexity of our hopes for our children, our families, and ourselves, and the ways in which experience can lead us to reimagine those hopes and expectations. Using Wordsworth's poetry as a touchstone, she speaks intimately of her poignant journey through crisis and disenchantment to a place of peace and resilience. Gilman illuminates the flourishing of life that occurs when we embrace the unexpected, and shows how events and situations often perceived as setbacks can actually enrich us. The Anti-Romantic Child is a courageous and inspiring synthesis of memoir and literature, one that resonates long after you finish the last page.

The Anti-Romantic Child, Gilman's first book, was excerpted in Newsweek magazine and featured on the cover of its international edition in April 2011. It was an NPR Morning Edition Must-Read, Slate's Book of the Week, selected as one the Best Books of 2011 by the Leonard Lopate Show, and chosen as a Best Book of 2011 by The Chicago Tribune. The Anti-Romantic Child was one of five nominees for a Books for a Better Life Award for Best First Book.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Priscilla Gilman’s lyrical narrative is profoundly moving and ultimately joyous. It eloquently touches the universal.” 

    Harold Bloom

  • “Unforgettable…I couldn’t put this book down.” 

    Gretchen Rubin, New York Times bestselling author of The Happiness Project

  • “A riveting and original book about love.” 

    Ann Beattie

  • “Anti-Romantic Child is a profoundly moving book I could hardly bear to read it. It is so riveting I couldn’t stop. It is rich, informative, and gorgeously written.” 

    Andre Gregory, theatre director, writer, and star of My Dinner with Andre

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Sharon Younkin | 2/12/2014

    " Compelling story of a parent's struggle with her special needs child, framed around the poetry of Wordsworth. Beautiful use of language. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Terry | 2/10/2014

    " I am actually not sure who I would recommend this book to. I think people who would be interested in a memoir about raising a special-needs child, especially in a milieu of super-high-intellectual-achieving individuals, would be rather put off by Gilman's unique take and tone. On one hand I totally "get" where she's going by weaving her own private passion for Wordsworth and Romantic poetry and ideals into her decidedly unromantic "real" life full of struggle and frustration and misery and shame. I get it. I just don't think it's necessarily fully successful. I understand that Gilman was raised in a real bubble of East Coast/New England/boarding school/prep school/Yale/graduate school/academic life, and I think she sort of makes a big deal out of "leaving" that life behind, but that life really bleeds into her sometimes arch, sometimes willfully naive writing style, and it grates. I think she has something interesting to say about living in a certain kind of world, and being the first person in her family to have a child of her own, both of which contribute to the "slowness" of Gilman and then the rest of her family to even realize something is truly wrong with her son. Some quibbles--being on the "other side of the table", so to speak, in having worked many years in special education with younger children, her attitude toward educational institutions that are actually trying to help her son is sometimes very frustrating. It's interesting to think that on one hand Gilman had lived her whole life in this precious bubble, and explores her struggle to burst that bubble (and the pain in doing so), yet she actually tries hard to wrap her own child in a similar bubble where the entire world is supposed to magically rework itself all to the needs and comfort of her child. Also, it must be said, sometimes what's fascinating and adorable to parents appears rather unpleasant and spoiled to "outsiders". Ahem. Anyway--it's a lyrically written book, covering a very difficult subject from a unique point of view, but doesn't quite completely jell together as a whole. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Steve | 1/28/2014

    " This book struck close. In many ways a mirror account of my wife's and my experience in raising our Asperger's son. It's made me crack my Wordsworth anthology again, rereading his poetry with a whole new perspective. A beautiful, eloquent, POETIC exploration on love, loss and acceptance. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Caroline Lawrence | 1/23/2014

    " Utterly gripping true-life story of an Ivy League poetry professor whose first born turns her life upside down. Gripping, inspiring and lyrical, I couldn't put this down an had to read into the wee hours. Especially encouraging for any parent of a child on the autism spectrum, but anyone interested in psychology, education or poetry will love it, too. "

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About the Author
Author Priscilla Gilman

Priscilla Gilman grew up in New York City and is a former professor of English literature at Yale University and Vassar College. She has taught poetry appreciation to inmates in a restorative justice program and to New York City public school students. The Anti-Romantic Child, her first book, was excerpted in Newsweek and featured on the cover of its international edition; it was also an NPR Morning Edition Must-Read, Slate’s Book of the Week, and selected as one the Best Books of 2011 by the Leonard Lopate Show. Gilman writes regularly for publications including the Daily Beast, New York Times, and Huffington Post; speaks frequently at schools, conferences, and organizations about parenting, education, and the arts; and is a scholar-facilitator for the New York Council for the Humanities. She lives in New York City with her family.