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Exiting Nirvana: A Daughter's Life with Autism

3.95  ·  Rating Details ·  164 Ratings  ·  15 Reviews
Exiting Nirvana" is a strong and affecting profile of an artist with autism, beautifully written by her mother. . . . Skillfully weaving in theories of autism with the experience of raising an autistic child, Park goes beyond individual history to address the wider question of what it means to be human".--from the National Magazine Awards presentation.
Paperback, 240 pages
Published March 28th 2002 by Back Bay Books (first published 2001)
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Jun 17, 2012 Judy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Judy by: YLTO
Jessy Park's mom dubbed her daughter's autistic world, Nirvana, for its unreality and her immersion into a dream-like state. The book itself has some dream-like qualities. At times, I found the writing so calming, but yet with a nice rhythm. I thought I would escape into my own state of nirvana. A strange thing to say about a book about a subject like autism. I wish I would have taken more care to mark some of these passages because there are better ones, but here is a sample that will give an i ...more
Natalie Maguire
Jan 23, 2016 Natalie Maguire rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
The description of this book doesn't really do it nearly enough the justice it deserves. I found it incredibly enlightening to read. The way her mother describes her daughters autistic habits is amazing, because it really enables you to have some kind of understanding of what it must be like. I think after reading this I have a new understanding of people with autism and how challenging the every day can be, as well as how I could possibly make things easier, especially after having previously l ...more
Oct 13, 2010 Mary marked it as to-read
A moving tale of a mother's (and father's, sister's, brother's) work with an autistic child, who finally was accepted by public school and with huge energy input by school, neighbors, and extended family grew up to be an accomplished artist, participating family member, and mostly a delightful person.
Beth Peninger
Sep 10, 2012 Beth Peninger rated it liked it
Clara Claiborne Park writes an informative piece on life with an autistic child - adult. My friend, Marcia, recommended it knowing that I love to read about different topics but at a level that the normal person can comprehend! :)
Park does a good job painting a picture of Jessy and how she thinks. It gives the reader another side to the life of an autistic person and their family. I was impressed with the efforts of the family to educate Jessy, to give her normal life jobs, etc. They raised an
Dec 03, 2011 Astraea rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: I'm not really sure
Shelves: jay
I originally wrote this Feb. 25, 2008, but mistakenly posted it as a comment.

The problem I had with this book is, Park tends to emphasize her daughter's deviance and abnormality instead of just seeing her as a person. Wrong, lady -- your daughter is human. Autism doesn't make a person less human.

I usually don't hold with person-first language (like "person with autism" as if it were some disease), but I could have used a little more of that spirit in this book. It's possible that she doesn't act
Carol Peters
Aug 13, 2016 Carol Peters rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A thoughtful book by a mother about her 40-some-yr-old autistic daughter. The mother writes about the stages of the daughter's learning how to live in the world with other people in a useful & not too troubling way. I learned a lot.
Joanne  Clarke Gunter
This is the excellent follow-up book to Clara Claiborne Park's "The Seige" which I read a few weeks ago. Both books chronicle her daughter Jessy Park's autism and her many accomplishments as well as the very weird (and often very annoying) traits common to most autistic people. In this book, Jessy is now an adult, holds a job, and is an artist whose very detailed paintings are widely sold. But she is still autistic and still lives a life that is very regimented and quirky and she still has diffi ...more
Jul 14, 2012 Kate rated it it was ok
Shelves: autism, 2012
This book was difficult to follow, often the writing did not seem complete. Some of it may be due to the fact that Parks writes in Jessy speak. I am wondering if I had read the first book The Siege if this book would have made more sense. It wasn't until half way through the book that I began to see that Parks was showing the reader what life with Jessy was like rather than who Jessy is.
Dec 18, 2007 Les rated it it was amazing
This is a well-written, almost lyrical book about a woman who doesn't understand lyrical and wouldn't like it if she read it. It's written for non-autistic people who want a glimpse into what it might be like to be autistic, and what it is like to live with a profoundly autistic person. Rainman got it right, apparently. I enjoyed this book immensely.
Mar 06, 2011 Robin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a really interesting book that shared the life of a woman with autism. It gave great insight into her growth and development over the years. Her mother was an amazing note keeper and kept so many details that the book really caught the important and extraordinary aspects of Jessy's life. I really enjoyed the book.
Aug 10, 2008 Lynnea rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: those interested in autism
Shelves: non-fiction
Very fascinating! Very good! Even though there were some parts that were hard to get through, I couldn't put it down! There were parts that were too text-bookish for me and other parts that were just so bizarre, as autism is.
Jan 04, 2014 Cindy rated it really liked it
Well written and perceptive book. Interesting insights into how Jessy thinks and why she acts as she does.
Julia Rojas
Aug 08, 2013 Julia Rojas rated it liked it
I liked this book. It was well-written and it had a good story. I liked the first chapter of this book. It had cute pictures in it.
Ariane Zurcher
Jun 16, 2012 Ariane Zurcher rated it it was amazing
The single best memoir about a mother and her autistic daughter that I've read.
Barbara Wussow
Jun 22, 2013 Barbara Wussow rated it it was amazing
Shelves: autism
A very well written non-clinical book about autism.
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You'll love this ...: May's Mental Illnesses/ Challenges - Exiting Nirvana 20 20 Jun 03, 2012 07:16AM  
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  • Following Ezra: What One Father Learned About Gumby, Otters, Autism, and Love From His Extraordinary Son
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Clara Justine Claiborne graduated from Radcliffe College in 1944. She married physicist David Park in 1945, and they both attended the University of Michigan, where she earned a master's degree in 1949, majoring in English literature. They moved to Massachusetts in 1951, where Park taught at Berkshire Community College and then at Williams College, where she was on the faculty from 1975 to 1994.

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“Dutch liberator William the Silent: “It is not necessary to hope in order to undertake; it is not necessary to succeed in order to persevere.” 1 likes
“So much of our pain is rooted in the responses of other people, or rather, in our perceptions of what those responses are or (even more painful) what they may be.” 1 likes
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