Thursday, February 18, 2010

Day 33- Review of "Dear John"

A dear friend of mine brought me a book a couple of days ago to read. It was the book "Dear John" by Nicolas Sparks. She had seen the movie, bought the book and read it and thought of me. If you haven't read the book and don't want the plot to be spoiled, I encourage you NOT to read this blog until after you have read the book.

For those of you who have read the book (or maybe have even seen the movie), you might have a clue what this is about. I haven't seen the movie, so I don't know yet if the same plot is evident in it.

My friend had encouraged me to read it saying that Asperger's was in the plot. So I picked the book up to read and within the first ten pages I knew which character had Asperger's.

The main plot of the book is about a guy who was going no where in live signing up for the army. When he was on his first leave, he went back to his hometown where he met and fell in love with a woman. Typical love story, but not the point of the blog. Had I not been familiar with Asperger's and interested in the plot I would not have been so intrigued by this book.

This man named John Tyree is estranged from his father. He finds that they have nothing to talk about and feels that his father doesn't care about his life and what he does. His father has eaten the same breakfast for as long as he could remember. He leaves for work the same time everyday. And my favorite... his father is obsessed with coins. Has been for years. While John is contemplating why his father has all these weird quirks, I am screaming at the book, "HE HAS ASPERGER'S!!!!!!"

Their relationship is strained at best. John knows exactly what to expect from his father by way of emotions and that is not a whole lot. He asks him questions about his day and gets unsociable answers of "It was fine" or my favorite "It's okay." John's dad tries to ask questions about John's life, but doesn't seem to be interested in the answers. This frustrates John to no end.

Then John meets Savannah. She is a special education major for a few hours away. She is spending the summer in his town working on a couple of homes for habitat of humanity. They immediately have a connection and spend a lot of time together during his leave. One of the things she asks to do is meet his dad. He is reluctant, but she insists. So they spend a few evenings with his dad. She seems to enjoy being around him, asking questions about his coin collection and keeping with his schedule. John seems pleased that she is so interested in him.

But then a couple of nights before he is set to go back, she sets his world spinning. She offers the idea that his father might have Asperger's and wants him to read this book. After a huge argument, he leaves her standing there crying, wishing she had not said a word. Feeling awful for the way he treated her and after spending most of the night up in anguish, he reluctantly starts reading the book. In almost and instant he realizes she was right and his whole perception of his father changes. He begins to realized why his father acts the way he does and doesn't act the way John wants him to.

He apologizes to Savannah and their relationship moves on.

However, the relationship that he builds with his dad becomes priceless. After realizing that all his dad knows is coins, he once again allows himself to be interested in the stories that he has heard millions of times. This is what his dad knows and while it doesn't mean much to him, it means the world to his dad.

Towards the end of the book, his father dies. But before that happens, John is given the opportunity to tell him that he loves him and that he was the greatest father in the world. To which the father replies, "I love you too."

I cried throughout the book. Not because he dies, or because the relationship between John and Savannah is ended, but because this man was never diagnosed. He simply went through life and adjusted. He was 'strange' to the people around him. Living in his own world he didn't care. But I have to wonder what more he could have had out of life, had he been given the tools to succeed.

I do recommend reading this book, not because of the predictable love story, but because you are given the opportunity to see how an adult with Asperger's might live.

I can only pray that by knowing that Tanner has it, working with him on his social skills and giving him what we think will help him, he can have a more social adult life than this man did.

1 comment:

  1. I saw the previews for a movie called Temple Grandin the other day. I haven't seen it yet, but the main character has autism. It looks pretty good. You might check it out, if you haven't already.

    Also I've seen the movie and thought of you when they talked about the father. I'd also like to think that the real love story was between John and his dad.good movie in my opinion.