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If I Could Tell You

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Anne. Talia. Ruthie. Brett. Four very different New York women. But when their children are diagnosed with autism, they all find themselves struggling with the same problem. Suddenly, these women – an ex-model who owns a downtown bar, a high-powered magazine editor, an English professor, and a physical therapist – find that they need each other, as they face the ultimate challenge for any parent: How to help their autistic children get the care they need.  But as women, they struggle with another daunting task: How to keep their marriages alive and not find themselves on the wrong side of a frightening statistic --Eighty percent of the parents of autistic children divorce.  They join together in a support group, and each chapter follows a month in their lives and ends with a meeting.

It's a rocky road, as they contend with other problems: Quacks peddling expensive alternative therapies – and hope; husbands impatient with their children's disability; other women only too happy to take advantage of the pressures on their marriages; older children diagnosed with autism years ago; newborn babies who have a one-in-five chance of suffering from the disorder; scheming co-workers who try to turn this problem to their advantage; grandparents who are anything but helpful; and resentful teens who run wild while their mothers cope with the crisis. And through it all, they help each other – with strength, humor, love and wisdom.

304 pages, Paperback

First published March 1, 2012

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Hannah Brown

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5 stars
20 (24%)
4 stars
27 (33%)
3 stars
26 (32%)
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5 (6%)
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3 (3%)
Displaying 1 - 19 of 19 reviews
Profile Image for Elizabeth.
201 reviews92 followers
July 16, 2012
Incredible! Makes me re-think so many things that have and are going on in my life, and how ignorant I am when it comes to the realities about "most things" autism.

This is a compelling and WOW! read for anyone!

I knew the author, Hannah Brown, from H.S. and we re-connected recently. What a courageous, tenacious, loving, empathic, "exhausted yet never leaving one more stone unturned to help her child" mother, activist, and advocate for all she has become...

Knowing Hannah even just a bit, made reading her book all the more poignant and important to me. WOW! I had it easy in H.S. and in college.

You are a Woman Warrior and a Mega Mom (Ima), Hannah!
Profile Image for Arthur Wiggins.
Author 18 books20 followers
April 19, 2012
Hannah Brown is a fabulous story-teller. It takes great talent to weave four stands of people’s lives into a coherent whole, while maintaining each character’s distinctive voice, but that is exactly what she does.

While the story line itself entertains, even including the modern requisites of sex and violence, there’s way more going on here than in a typical novel. Brown presents the mystery and reality of autism, which binds together the characters in this story. By the book’s end, the reader will have a deeper appreciation of what parents of autistic children must face on a day-to-day basis. While the readers’ knowledge of this disorder is enhanced, it is made much more interesting by the entertaining quality of the story.

Hannah Brown is to be commended to educating readers while telling a great story- or is it vice-versa?
Profile Image for Kate Hewitt.
Author 686 books1,164 followers
July 1, 2013
This book was a quick read but also thought-provoking concerning issues around autism, its causes and treatments and also how parents cope with the diagnosis. If that all sounds a bit too much like a self-help book for you, this is very much a novel. I enjoyed it tremendously, and I have a relative with autism so I appreciated the insight.
Profile Image for Arda.
252 reviews158 followers
March 15, 2012
I was actually honored to read the manuscript before this book was published, as it was written by a good friend of mine. I look forward to having a copy of this book someday, and to read it again.
Profile Image for Kathie Giorgio.
Author 22 books49 followers
September 13, 2019
Well...let's talk about the writing. The writing itself wasn't too bad. There were an awful lot of characters to keep track of, and for the first third of the book, I was having to flip back to the beginning section for each individual character to make sure I remembered who they were correctly. After that first third, I was able to keep the women apart, but the men remained confusing to me until the end. I also felt that a lot of the "big drama" moments were predictable. They were presented as an "ohmygosh, this will surprise the reader!"moment, but I wasn't surprised. They were predictable.

But still, it held my attention.

Now here's the bigger thing. As the parent of a high-functioning autistic child, this book made me very, very angry. Any parent of a newly diagnosed child who reads this will become absolutely terrified. It showed the worst case scenario for everyone - kids who barely responded, awful therapies, worst therapists, grim futures. At one point, the kids, who were diagnosed as PDD-NOS, were called "high-functioning autistic". No, they weren't. Not even close.

At another point, a doctor claimed that only a couple autistic kids out of I forget how many thousand would remain outside of an institution. Also wrong. And again, bad information that could terrify parents.

Partway through the book, one of the parents asks to read something that isn't about those "high-functioning kids with Asperger's" - as if Asperger kids and their parents don't also deal with a lot.

All the way through this book, a "cure" for autism was discussed. As if autism was a disease, an affliction. It's not. It's just a part of who these kids and adults are. There is not something wrong with an autistic child. They are not broken. They're just themselves.

Near the end of the book, one of the kids who was diagnosed with PDD-NOS was re-evaluated and the parent told, "Oh! He's not autistic at all!" Why? Because he interacted, he reacted, he played, he enjoyed. Well, guess what. So do autistic kids. My daughter always craved social interaction. She craved hugs and cuddles. Her IQ was clearly through the roof at an early age. But she was also autistic. To show this scene at the end is to encourage more and more denial.

Guess what? Autism is not the end of the world.

My daughter is 18. She didn't speak until she was well past 3 years old. We did not do any therapies. We did not use therapists. We didn't use drugs. We had some really rough years, but you know what? We just treated our daughter like a kid. Today, she is in college, after winning scholarships and grants. She is a gifted violinist and also plays guitar and ukulele. She's an artist, majoring in art therapy, and she's finished the first draft of her first novel.

This book lists a bunch of resources, which I assume the author used in her research. If she did, she didn't interpret the resources correctly. Her version of autism is nothing short of a nightmare.

We need more books that show the joy of these children. Their way of seeing the world in a different light. Their soaring IQ and their sensitivity and tenderness.

I will definitely not recommend this book to anyone. And to parents with kids with autism - I recommend you stay far, far away.
January 19, 2022
Tells it like it is

I have known Hannah, the author, for many, many years. I had meant to read this book for quite some time but kept putting it off. What propelled me to finally pick up Hannah's book is a young man named Ryan, the older brother of my daughter's boyfriend. Ryan is autistic and for the most part nonverbal, except for his love of and extraordinary ability to sing Broadway tunes.
Full disclosure: My daughter is learning disabled but, fortunately, not autistic. She is ADHD and at one point a psychiatrist suggested she might have Asperger's syndrome. She has always been prone to panic attacks, and several years back was diagnosed as bipolar. At least most of the time she was able to tell me why she was so upset, to give me hugs and kisses.

182 reviews62 followers
August 24, 2016
This book only covers about a year in the lives of the families, so we don't see much improvement of the children. In some ways I felt like this book was much more about the family caregivers. There was discussion of several different books and treatments. The dialogue seemed a bit stilted, but it mostly worked. Each family chose a different treatment, except two. The therapist working with those two families was working with each of them differently.

But as I said, I think this book is about the family caregivers. One mother lost her job, the husband of one of the women had an affair with another woman in the group, who was then ostracized. She wasn't brought back in until something went wrong with a treatment. Another couple broke up because the husband was pursuing a different path than his wife was comfortable with.

These are chick lit/women's fiction books, so men don't play very big roles. .I'm sure there are more families that get strong support from the husbands and help their children as a team. The stats do say that many families break up, and I believe that since this author has an autistic child, she definitely wrote from an "inside" perspective. She knew exactly what she was talking about.
15 reviews
March 17, 2013
Had a hard time reading this, was a bit slow to start. As a mom with a child on the spectrum I did find myself getting emotional about the story line at times. However, there were several scenes throughout that I felt weren't as relatable, especially how insecure all of the women seemed when it came to their children's therapies. We all struggle with insecurities in life, especially as parents and doubly with special needs children but my first instinct as a mom is to protect my kid. The parts with the ABA therapists made me mad and upset that these mothers didn't stand up for their children sooner.
5 reviews2 followers
February 21, 2015
"If I Could Tell You" is the story of one year in the lives of four women living in New York City, who are brought together in a support group for parents who have children with autism. The novel weaves together the stories of each woman's life with a lot of information about autism, different types of treatment, and what it is like to raise a child with autism. The reader is drawn into the marriages, friendships, and daily struggles of the four women who are all trying to do the best they can to give their children what they need to grow and learn. Very interesting and well-written book. I really enjoyed it.
Profile Image for Abdullah H..
65 reviews1 follower
February 14, 2013
As a reader of non-fiction/how to books, this was the first novel
I have read in over a year.
Honestly, I could not put it down.
I was very impressed by Hannah Brown.
It created more awareness for me on the subject matter.
At times, I was disturbed. I smiled, laughed, wept and was even perplexed.
And it did what a novel is supposed to do: entertain.
Profile Image for Andrea.
1 review
August 22, 2012
Although the drama between the characters is fictional, the struggles the families endured were real. As an educator of students with autism, I thought the techniques the families used to help educate their children with autism were true to life. I enjoyed reading this book and would recommend it to others!
Profile Image for Karen.
496 reviews20 followers
January 3, 2014
This was a bit better than 3 stars but not 4. This novel about a support group for parents with autistic kids is a novel that feels a lot like a non-fiction book. With this confused identity it didn't quite succeed as either, but it does offer insight into the challenging life of living with an autistic child.
Profile Image for Barb Mcannany.
3 reviews
September 16, 2015
I just participated in a book club interview with the author. She is articulate and passionate about the subject of autism. The book captured my attention right from the start. The characters are genuine, funny and likeable despite or maybe because of their flaws. Loved it.
Profile Image for John Harney.
41 reviews
July 15, 2012
A friend writes a novel. With some trepidation, you begin reading it and discover . . that it's a very good book.
94 reviews3 followers
June 30, 2013
I enjoyed the book and learned a lot. Hats off to all parents who deal with children with special needs. You are very special.
Profile Image for Darlene.
633 reviews3 followers
May 17, 2014
This is a wonderful book for all parents. A great story about different mothers with special need children. Heart breaking at times and laugh out loud other times. I loved it.
Displaying 1 - 19 of 19 reviews

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