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Know the Night: A Memoir of Survival in the Small Hours
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Know the Night: A Memoir of Survival in the Small Hours

3.74  ·  Rating Details ·  103 Ratings  ·  32 Reviews
This soul-stirring debut memoir explores the experience of isolation and the miraculous power of care and communication in its midst.

In this soul-stirring debut memoir, Maria Mutch explores the miraculous power that care and communication have in the face of the deep, personal isolation that often comes with disability. A chronicle of the witching hours between midnight an
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published March 25th 2014 by Simon & Schuster (first published September 3rd 2013)
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Jan 20, 2014 Wendy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Wendy by: Goodreads Giveaways
Shelves: memoir, touching
"Know The Night" which I won from Goodreads Giveaways is a touching, heartwarming memoir as a mother struggles with the intellectual development, communication and bowel movements of her son Gabriel an autistic boy with Down's Syndrome. There is no reprieve even at night for Maria Mutch who is committed to her son's care. Nightly she's awakened by clapping, humming and shrieking that shatters the quiet stillness of the dark hours until she's plagued by anxiety, her rest broken as she continually ...more
Michael F.
May 10, 2014 Michael F. rated it it was amazing
This memoir is one of only a handful that I have read that could be considered great literature, groundbreaking writing. Maria Mutch, an accomplished poet and photographer, gives birth to an autistic son, Gabriel, who challenges her vision of reality through years of nights sitting up with him, watching him participate in a world that only he can see. The story of Mutch’s rescue from what she initially considers a burden is cleverly mirrored in the accounts of Admiral Richard Byrd’s solitary ...more
Jul 01, 2015 Devon rated it really liked it
One of the features of early infant care that did my head in was being up several times in the night for feedings/changings/comfort-giving/cleaning up barf or pee during the toddler years.
Then I had to get up and go to work all day.
I thought I would die. I kind of never got over that and sleep now whenever and wherever I can. I'll forever be in recovery, tempted by prescription sleep aids to guarantee a chemical vacation for a few hours. I cannot imagine how harrowing the ongoing sleep interru
Sep 04, 2016 Nancy rated it really liked it
Shelves: canadian-authors
Clearly, having read this memoir in two days, it was one I couldn't put down. It presents the voice of a mother, the author, journeying through acceptance of, trying to understand, and finally surrendering to the multiple diagnoses of her eldest son who lives with Down syndrome and autism. It is a slice of the life of a family, mainly of two years of sleepness nights, and how the mother maintained balance while on that journey.

It is a privilege to be taken into the confidence of the teller, who
Warren-Newport Public Library
Maria Mutch combines the story of Antarctic explorer Richard Byrd with that of her much-loved son Gabriel in this moving, poetic memoir.

Gabriel was born with Down Syndrome. He developed language skills as other children do until he was a toddler, but then a series of seizures damaged his brain and took his words away. Gabriel is a teenager now, and it seems that he leads a good life, despite his dual diagnosis of Down Syndrome and autism. He shows signs of frustration at his inability to speak,
May 26, 2014 Jenny rated it liked it
This is a memoir about being a mother to a son with severe autism and down syndrome, and jazz, and being awake at night, and having a deep connection to Antarctica and the experience of Byrd and the other explorers who went there.

Not surprisingly, it's not plot based. It meanders from one subject and scene to another. I enjoyed the writing and the feel of it, but it was a book that I had to push myself through, not one that pulled me along.

Here are a couple thoughts I liked, that give a good fe
Sep 06, 2016 Alissa rated it really liked it
Quite a lovely book. I didn't follow all the parallels to Byrd's expedition other than loneliness, isolation, and needing to be rescued, but the part about the lamp was very revealing. If a child continually drops a lamp the first assumption is that they're being mischievous. So the notion that a child would keep doing this for something more compelling like right a wrong is just mind-blowing. I feel for G. and his family because for however much he's enriched their lives, this barrier between ...more
Mike Freeman
Jun 06, 2014 Mike Freeman rated it it was amazing
While this book will probably translate more easily to those who have special needs children, it's a terrific though challenging book for anyone. If Mutch isn't a poet she should be, and much of the narrative is connected by complicated imagery and rhythms. Her son Gabriel, who has both autism and Down's Syndrome, by and large stops sleeping for two years, with all of his night care left to his equally sleepless mother. Scrambling for kinship, she finds it through jazz, which Gabriel loves too, ...more
Sep 23, 2015 Debbie rated it really liked it
I think its so interesting how you sometimes don't really "know" people unless you live with them, or at least stay with them. You get a chance to observe their rituals, the ways they do things and how their families interact. I thought this memoir was so illuminating in that way, as if you really were experiencing the daily (night)life of this family. The author opens a window on her son's life that few people would otherwise witness. Her son is autistic and was born with Down's syndrome (and ...more
Literary Mama
Feb 20, 2015 Literary Mama added it
Shelves: memoir
Know the Night chronicles Mutch's two-year bout of sleeplessness while caring for her child, in between "a mesh of silence, shrieks, and spaces where words are supposed to be." Mutch crafts her densely rich memoir with all the nuanced details of her son Gabriel's birth and subsequent diagnosis with Down syndrome, his gain and loss of language, his autism diagnosis, and all of the moments in between, although not necessarily in that particular, or even chronological, order. Mutch parallels her ...more
Aug 11, 2014 MountainShelby rated it liked it
This book is beautifully written, insightful, and compelling. BUT, while the prose is, as other readers have commented, poetic, for me it was just too poetic--I wanted more of the grit of her existence (and she does give some examples, but they were wrapped around this rather fey aura of words). After awhile the book just became too dreamy for me. Perhaps that was Mutch's intention, but I needed a bit more of the string, not just the kite. Ironically, Byrd's book (which I read many years ago), ...more
I received this book through a Goodreads First Reads giveaway.

What struck me first about this book was the fact that there's not really a plot to push it along and perhaps that's why it's taken me so long to finish it.

The book is lyrical at times, incredibly detailed as we're shown these intimate moments in this woman's life and the things that have brought her to where she is. The parallel to Byrd's journey is clearer sometimes than others. I found the book gained a lot of structure and seeme
Nicholas Graham
Oct 16, 2014 Nicholas Graham rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There are very few books that I would award five stars. This is a splendid mix of the personal and the historical, the descriptive and the insightful, and the heartbreaking and the uplifting. Maria Mutch has combined her experience of sleepless nights with her son Gabriel, who has Down syndrome and autism, with descriptions of one of Admiral Richard E. Byrd's polar expeditions. Running through it are anecdotes of some of the great jazz musicians whose music is a tonic for her son. I am glad that ...more
Dec 06, 2015 Rochelle rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015-books
I liked the braided, non-linear structure of this memoir, but at times it felt as though the author were making leaps that weren't seamless or even logical. I needed to be grounded a bit more in the present day narrative and to have a more fulfilling reason for the parallel narrative, which is an exploration of the Antarctic expeditions of Admiral Byrd, Shackleton and others. Having said that, I would recommend this book to others. The author is a skilled writer and her story of raising her ...more
Mackenzie Rivers
Sep 22, 2014 Mackenzie Rivers rated it it was amazing
I haven't logged in to Goodreads in almost a year, and in that time I have read many good books I enjoyed or found interesting, or well-written--David Mitchell's latest (The Bone Clocks) for one. I am taking the time to login today simply to add my review of Mutch's book. It is a beautifully written work in the way that so many books are simply not, despite their stellar reviews. Mutch is a gifted and honest writer, with a keen intelligence she is not afraid to use, who does not resort to ...more
Henriette Lazaridis
Jul 06, 2014 Henriette Lazaridis rated it really liked it
Thumb-typing on a phone isn't the best way to convey what a gem this book is. Mutch (full disclosure: she's a friend) does something quite rare here: she writes about her son's autism and Down Syndrome without prescriptions or overt lessons, but with intense love and equally intense effort to discover and understand his silences. That she does this through a study of Byrd's solitude during the Antarctic night and an exploration (with her son) of nighttime jazz is what makes this memoir even more ...more
Oct 17, 2014 Jennifer rated it liked it
This account of a mother dealing with her child's issues is disjointed and rambling, but I can forgive that knowing the amount of sleep deprivation she was experiencing. Otherwise, I enjoyed reading about her child and the difficulties their family has overcome. I would have liked less about Byrd's Antarctic journey, but know that she was feeling isolated ad overwhelmed in the face of overwhelming times and the comparison is appropriate.
So, to sum up, it could have been better, but it could hav
Nov 30, 2014 Rachel rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

I really like Mutch's comparisons throughout the book. They really help the reader understand her thought processes. Her stories are touch the heart of anyone who reads it an helps open the eyes of the audience to life with a special needs kid. Her son sounds so sweet though! I would love to meet him. Unfortunately, the book didn't have a great resolution on her end, but the rest of the book makes up for it.
Dec 09, 2014 Michelle rated it it was ok
Something about the author seemed a bit...snobbish? I don't even know how that's possible in a memoir about something that was extremely difficult. I expected to feel more for the author, and to hear more of the story. Instead it was presented in a way that was more fancy prose instead of the raw emotion and honesty I seek in memoirs. I thought the matching up to the Antarctica story was nicely done, however - after a while it lost my interest.
Fawn Carriker
This was a hard book to read, simply because of its stark reality and poignancy. Raising and loving a child with a disability is difficult, but also rewarding. Maria Mutch did an excellent job counterbalancing the fear, exhaustion, and joy that comes with loving such a child.
Aug 25, 2014 Tara rated it really liked it
An honest and raw account of a family living with a complex child. While I work with many families who experience similar situations, Maria's account of her life and love for her child gave a glimpse into what can be a very lonely time.
Patti  M Hall
Aug 19, 2014 Patti M Hall rated it it was amazing
A getaway with a takeaway. Mutch is at points brilliant in her study and at all times inspiring as a parent. She copes by doing, and lives by embracing unconditional love as both her method and her purpose. Loved this mother written memoir.
Jul 25, 2014 Sharon rated it liked it
Lovely read, written with insight & compelling use of images to create the mood - her story felt lacking on some level... distant rather then intimate... not reaching the heart of her experience perhaps.
Jun 03, 2014 Jill rated it it was amazing
As memoirs go, this is among the best I've read in the last several years.

The connections between sleeplessness, internal exploration and the experience and isolation of polar explorers is exceptionally well drawn.
Jul 15, 2014 Helene rated it really liked it
For a debut novel this is a wonderfully written memoir! I highly recommend this book! What an insight into a parent's everyday rewards and struggles with a disabled child! The story takes place mostly in Rhode Island.
Katy Sims
Katy Sims rated it liked it
Nov 13, 2016
Daisy Mendoza
Daisy Mendoza rated it did not like it
Sep 07, 2016
Apr 13, 2015 Lori rated it it was ok
This memoir is beautifully written but not engaging so while I wanted to like it I just didn't.
Erin rated it really liked it
Jan 07, 2015
Lenore Myka
Lenore Myka rated it really liked it
Oct 30, 2014
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