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Daniel Isn't Talking

3.58  ·  Rating Details ·  1,533 Ratings  ·  236 Reviews
Melanie Marsh is an American living in London married to Stephen, the perfect Englishman, who knew the minute he saw her that she was to his future. But when their youngest child is diagnosed with autism their marriage starts to unravel at great speed. Stephan runs back into arms of his previous girlfriend while Melanie does everything in her power to help her son and keep ...more
Paperback, 281 pages
Published 2006 by Fourth Estate
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Aug 11, 2012 Christine rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
My fury. Let me show you it.

First, when I read that there was a "devastating" diagnosis, I assumed it was something terminal. ASD is life-altering, not devastating. ASD is not going to kill my child. There are worse things.

Second, when the MMR line came up? Book went flying across the room.

Third, and I am saying this as an ASD mother as well, stop stop STOP with the Jenny McCarthy warrior mother/tiger mother/whatever her line is crap. Parents do what they need to when their child needs help be
Jan 26, 2008 Kelly rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Don't read this book!!! The author gives a completely stereotyped, unrealistic portrayal of children with autism. Being a speech-language pathologist that works with children with autism, I was offended by the generalized portrayal and lack of research put into this book. I actually wrote to the author because I was enraged by her portrayal of speech therapist in certain chapters.
Jan 16, 2013 Victoria rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lit-fic, family
I really enjoyed this book - so much of what Leimbach described about dealing with having a child with a disability made me think while I was reading that she must have dealt with this on a personal level. And since the book cover didn't tell me, it wasn't until I read about it on Amazon that I realized that Daniel was based on her own autistic son. Which certainly explains how she really nailed the emotional frenzy accompanying such a diagnosis. It was a sad book, but really, probably eye-openi ...more
May 04, 2012 Wahidah rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No one - unless you're a parent with an autistic child
I didn't quite like this one. I usually savour books about people/kids with disability, poverty or war but this one lacked flavour.

It's simply about this mother with an autistic kid. I feel like her character's too whiny, and autism isn't the worst thing that can happen to your child. She's negative and paranoid - which is quite annoying because she's white, living comfortably in London with food on her table and a roof over her head. In the book however this is addressed - with one of the char
Mar 04, 2011 Chinook rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In "Daniel Isn’t Talking", Marti Leimbach has written a novel about a mother discovering her son has autism and trying to find him treatment. I must say, it got quite an emotional response from me. I was ready to kill the asshole husband and all the doctors who wrote off Daniel as untreatable. I really liked it, though I haven’t got a lot to say about it. What did really resonant with me was the following quote:

“When Stephen left, it was like an emptying out of my life, of all our years together
We first meet Melanie, the protagonist and narrator of Daniel Isn't Talking, at a particularly vulnerable point in her life. She's a new arrival in an unfamiliar country, having emigrated from the United States to England to set up house with her new husband in a cottage owned by his family; she's not working, and is dependent on her husband for both financial support and social ties; she doesn't really know her husband all that well, as she seems to have turned to him soon after losing her boyf ...more
Dec 04, 2012 Steph rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very enjoyable novel about motherhood and autism. As a parent of a child on the autism spectrum, I found everything -- from Melanie's fear, guilt, and grief when she faces the diagnosis to the infuriating frustration of dealing with professionals -- believable and easy to relate to.

Memorable quotes:

I've begun to understand that once you are a mother there is just no safe place to cast a vote. Everything you do, the consequences of every action, you will take to the grave. And there is no point i
Jul 22, 2009 Lynn rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
For me, this book simply did not live up to all the hype. Neither in content nor style.

The plot of the novel (and that is what this is a NOVEL, not a memoir) was acceptable. Given the difficulty of taking on a subject such as autism, you have to give the author some credit. But it just didn't shine. It seemed to me that the book focused around the main character's overwhelming sense of loss: of her child, of her husband, and of all sense of normalcy. Which would be fine, but she doesn't make any
May 09, 2010 Megan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book because it departs from the cliche of most books about children with autism. It still provides many insights about autism and its effect on the family, but rather than centering on the child's condition, the author chose to highlight the bumpy but realistic personal journey of his mother. She starts out rather insecure, and makes a lot of the classic relationship mistakes of the young (including being so blinded by her first real love affair that she fails to recognize her husb ...more
May 30, 2016 Laurie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I found the book to be readable and felt it does a good job of portraying what it's like for some families who are new to the diagnosis. However, I would have rather seen the author discredit the dangerous "vaccines cause autism" theory rather than just bringing it up as a possible cause. Leaving it with a question mark suggests that it may be a credible theory ... which it is definitely not. I would have rated it higher if the author had of either left it out entirely or used the book as an opp ...more
Mar 22, 2007 Patti rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who know nothing about autism and don't care to learn anything about autism
A fictional tale of a woman coping with her young autistic son. The author creates a fantasy world for her characters and nothing about it seems accurate or true. I wanted to hurl this book across the room at least three times. I hated the protagonist, who seemed snotty, and I didn’t care about anyone else. This book got good reviews, why? I want my money back.
Apr 02, 2011 Kristal rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: readers of: autistic fiction, gentle reads, women's lives, family relationships
Shelves: kristal-tucker
Daniel Isn’t Talking, by Marti Leimbach is a first-person narrative of Melanie Marsh’s life. She is American, married to Stephen and living in England. A stay at home mom, Melanie enjoys her days with her children, Emily (four) and Daniel (three), until the day Daniel is diagnosed with autism, explaining his odd behaviors and confirming Melanie’s concerns for her youngest child. Melanie is devastated, but her friend Veena explains that autism is not the end of the world—Daniel is a healthy and h ...more
Jul 05, 2012 Amanda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was great. It's about a woman and a marriage and a kid and a family and how they all bounce off of each other and collapse and grow. Daniel has autism. It's hard to understand what is happening with him at first because he is a normally functioning baby. Melanie takes on the challenge and holds on with all the courage she can gather. She goes to the doctors appointments seeks out other people tries to connect in her fragile world. Steven doesn't make it. This is not the kind of child h ...more
Oct 30, 2009 Diane rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I've read several fictionalized accounts of families dealing with an autistic child, and this one sounded so good. However, I was very disappointed. The protaganist just isn't believable and I'm not sure why. Her grief over her son's situation seems one-dimensional. I think if someone wants to read a really good account of coming to grips with being the mother of an austistic child, they should read "A Certain Slant of Light" or "Elijah's Cup of Tea." Both true stories written by the mother, eac ...more
Mar 24, 2011 Readitnweep rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 20th-century, autism
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lisa of Hopewell
Got to the licking of an eyeball and then a tongue bath. Barfed. Threw book across room. Will not be returning to this one--even though the story has great promise. What kind of editor thinks I need details like that in a story about Autism????????
Jan 20, 2010 Stephanie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
No good at all. The mother was infuriating.
Oct 13, 2007 Cate rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Didn't like this one at all. It had a completely unbelievable fairy-tale ending.
May 26, 2015 Zoe rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Melanie can't understand why her three year old can't talk and avoids all sorts of human interaction. When they, Melanie and her husband Stephen, finally find the cause of why their son is the way he is they don't know what to do. He's autistic. Stephen unable to cope with Melanie's overbearing motherly instincts and his son's autism runs into the arms of an old flame. Left alone to try and help her son, Melanie turns to, Andy, a man who deals with and helps autistic children and their families. ...more
Apr 06, 2008 Irishcoda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am not surprised to read that Marti Leimbach has an autistic son. Anyone who could write characters as well as she either must have a lot of personal experience or is a genius. I liked the book a lot and it's a good one to read to learn about the impact autism has on family members, particularly the mother.

Melanie Marsh is an American married to a veddy proper Englishman named Stephen. His family is la-dee-dah and since Melanie is so much an individual, the first thing I wondered is how she an
Tricia Rogers
Jun 11, 2013 Tricia Rogers rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Within reading 30 pages of this book, I thought the author had read my thoughts on several things. How could she know about these things that I've thought, that I've felt, that I've dealt with ..... an author just can't write about Autism like this unless she knows something about it. So I looked her up on the Internet and found that she has an Autistic child so some of the things in the book are things she has thought, felt and dealt with. I really enjoyed this book. One particular scene made m ...more
I don't even remember how this book made it onto my shelf. I picked it up the other day, because I wanted a paperback to carry with me. And strangely, it took me about 50 pages to realize that this wasn't a memoir. Instead, it's a novel about a woman coming to terms with her child's autism (and coming to terms with the fact that not everybody is willing to do what's necessary to support him).

I'm pretty sure that if I were a part of the autism community, this book would have been somewhat infuria
Mar 18, 2011 zespri rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great title - and the reason Daniel isn't talking is that he is autistic.

This is a novel about a mum who refuses to give up on her autistic son, and interestingly, the author does actually have an autistic child. I wondered as I read the novel if this was so, as she captures the range of emotions beautifully. From 'knowing' something is not quite right with her boy in the face of her family's dismissal that anything is wrong, through her fight to help him become as fully able to function in the
Veronica Zundel
Living with an autistic child, the subject of this novel, was bound to be of interest to me as the mother of a son with Asperger's Syndrome. I found the narrative gripping but the author sometimes made huge plot jumps without filling in how she got from there to here, so it gave something of the impression of a film rather than a novel. Lots of details, like the horror of going to paediatricians and the real community between autism parents, rang very true, though the characters were sometimes l ...more
3.5 I liked this book, although I am not a believer that shots cause autism. It will be a good discussion at group next week.
Dec 19, 2016 Carmen rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
How many clichés can you pack into a book about living with a special needs child? Depression - check. Marriage falling apart - check. Useless Husband who's practically caveman in his emotions - check.

I won't continue for the risk of spoilers.

A lot of the tone of this book is whiny. I wish, just for once, people's lives aren't over when a diagnosis (any diagnosis, not just autism!) in literature doesn't bring the character's lives to a screeching halt.

Disliked the ending, too. Just when the pr
Dianne Kaucharik
I enjoyed the honesty of this novel in revealing the impacts on family when a family member has a significant and permanent medical condition. While this book revolves around the mother of a young child with autism, it is fair to say there would be similar strains (e.g., marital, financial) and challenges (e.g., conflicting treatment/therapy advice, family balance) with other conditions. Overall, it is a thoughtful read that may be of particular interest to those who are touched by autism in eit ...more
Kendra Larson
Jan 21, 2017 Kendra Larson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really don't think there are enough words to say how much I truly loved, related to and enjoyed this book. This is a story of one very strong mother- just wanting what is best for her son despite what others, including medical professionals, have to say. The book gets better and better, with Daniel making progress as a child with autism, and the mother making progress on herself and her life. This book was relatable on so many levels and made me think of my son and my divorce.
Oct 05, 2016 Sherrill rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is very close to me because I have an autistic grandson. I doubt his mother had the problems that the mom is this book had because my son and his wife have each other. He didn't leave her for another woman. I understand how this mom took everything upon herself and thought she was the cause of it all. I once had a friend who had an autistic son and her mother told her it was because she got the shots when he was little. It is a cruel world that makes people fear that they are the sum ...more
Dec 01, 2007 Lain rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
There is much to love and admire about this book: the author's heart-wrenching take on mothering an autistic child, vivid characters, smooth writing... but there is also much to take issue with.

I am not the mother of an autistic child, so the criticisms I have will likely seem minor to a woman who is crying tears of relief that she is reading about her life in a book. So, that said...

In marked contrast to her ability to portray Daniel and the agony his mother is going through with such poignan
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Goodreads Feedback: Page numbers update 2 46 Mar 26, 2014 08:14AM  
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