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Raising Blaze: Bringing Up an Extraordinary Son in an Ordinary World
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Raising Blaze: Bringing Up an Extraordinary Son in an Ordinary World

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  399 Ratings  ·  53 Reviews
When you have a child that doesn't fit in, what do you do? Debra Ginsberg knew that her son, Blaze, was unique from the moment he was born in 1987. What she didn't know was that Blaze's differences would be regarded by the outside world not as gifts, but as impediments to social and academic success. Blaze never crawled. He just got up and walked when he turned one. He cal ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published August 1st 2003 by Harper Perennial (first published 2002)
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May 22, 2009 rated it really liked it
A bit sad and disturbing, this book chronicles Debra Ginsberg's struggles with the school system when her son is growing up. She struggles to find a diagnosis for him, as he seems alternately creative and talented in some areas, but unable to function in a school environment, at least in other people's eyes. I thought she did a nice job of raising questions in the reader's mind because the way she sees her own son is so different from the comments of school officials and the conflicting reports ...more
Jan 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Raising Blaze: Bringing Up an Extraordinary Son in an Ordinary World by Debra Ginsberg is a beautifully written account of a mother bringing up a bright, creative child who doesn't fit into any of the available slots our society has created. Having a child like that myself, a child who was eventually for lack of any better classifications, diagnosed as having Asperger's Syndrome, I identified enormously with Ginsberg's love, frustrations, pains, and joys. She shows herself to be a devoted mother ...more
Basic Summary: Debra Ginsberg wrote a memoir about her years in the food industry (Waiting: The True Confessions of a Waitress). Waiting was full of spelling and grammar error; which I found funny since she stresses how she ended up working with a book packaging company and reading manuscripts/etc for a living..and this book is only slightly better in the amount of errors. As I typed this sentence, I discovered that she has actually 8 books, which is about 6 more than I thought she had.

Oct 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
I plunged into Raising Blaze on the recommendation of a family member. Raising Blaze is an awakening. I have no first-hand experience with autism outside of the occasional encounter in the workplace. Ginsberg, and through her, her son, reveal an inside portrait of a life unknown to me. I must say that, for all the good help and support Blaze received along the way, I would have reached through time and space to throttle a few of his teachers.
Jun 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
Debra thought everything was fine until her son, Blaze, started school. His had been a difficult birth and he struggled with issues like asthma, but other than that he seemed like a normal kid. He didn't spend much time around other kids but seemed to be hitting all of his developmental milestones.

But on the first day of kindergarten (literally the very first day, if Debra's memories are accurate) his teachers knew there was something different. After observing Blaze in class for just three hour
Rita Glick
Jan 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully written book.. I read it in 24 hours. Having worked in classrooms with children who have no diagnosis, my heart ached. I would like to see this as required reading for mainstream teachers, but I'm afraid they would blow it off as the writings of an over-protective parent; so many of them don't get it and too many don't want to. Ginsberg admits her own eccentric background almost as an excuse. But aren't we all eccentric in our own way? I was happy to read so much about her family and ...more
Oct 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: autism, psychology
I had a very hard time putting this book down. Debra Ginsberg is a gifted writer (I started reading Waiting, but wasn't able to finish it before it had to be returned to the library, so it's back on the hold list!)

I have a son named Blaise, which was actually what first drew me to this book. My Blaise is different. Another thing that drew me in. The way she describes having him diagnosed, or attempting to have him diagnosed, is all exactly how I felt going through this with my Blaise. I just rea
Mar 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: school-reading
I read this book for a graduate course on creating and sustaining positive classroom environments. I NEVER expected to enjoy this book the way I did. As someone who has been in classrooms with students eerily similar to Blaze, I've felt exhaustion toward parents who I felt were either blissfully ignorant, or neglecting to do their part. This is the first time I've ever heard a personal account of what it is like to be the parent of a student navigating the world of special education, and it has ...more
Nikki Byer
Sep 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed reading this book even though there were many things I disagreed with. As a classroom teacher for 39 years, I can relate to the school's perspective. As a grandmother raising my grandson who is on the autism spectrum, I have to wonder if the author had taken the advice of the psychologists and psychiatrists and perhaps gotten some outside therapy for Blaze, if perhaps the outcome would have been different. Going by the descriptions she presented, he has many of the symptoms of autism. ...more
Aug 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
I've read a number of books written by parents who obsess over their children's problems, the ones that immediately come to mind are "Augusta, Gone," "Live Through This" and "Beautiful Boy" and there comes a point in each of these memoirs where the reader, or at least I, fatigue and find I am no longer interested in the minutiae of someone else's children's problems. Even so, I did finish this book and found it to be enlightening in what it exposed about the morass our current educational system ...more
Jul 03, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: anyone interested in education
If you want to dive into the world of special education, unusual children, and the public school system, this book is interesting. It's even interesting if you're not into these things. Blaze, Ginsberg's son, is somewhere in the world of not normal, but undiagnosable. Ginsberg reveals her life and her son's life in this novel as they navigate from a complicated child birth to the 7th grade. It's well written and full of the details that make us see and examine our less then our perfect thoughts.
Jan 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
This book raised a lot of questions about special education and how school districts handle special needs students. The author herself had a unique upbringing, which brought up a lot of questions as I was reading this book. In addition, her relationship with her child and her naive approach to how we prepare children for Kindergarten was also thought provoking. Finally, it was interesting to watch her viewpoints of public education change year to year, as her son went through each grade of schoo ...more
Julie Dalle
Jun 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
This was an intriguing book. It kept my interest with laughter but the topic of a young boy with special needs was serious. I particularly liked how the author focused on his education, that was of interest to me most as I see students with special needs or some that appear to be different all the time and realize what they may be going through. Raising boys is tough, but I'm thankful mine don't have the mental or physical challenges broached in this book. I found myself thinking how I would rea ...more
Sally Ewan
Mar 23, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I like this author's voice. She writes very well, using words in a beautiful way to express herself. I appreciated her honesty: each time she seemed adamant in her opinion about something regarding her son, such as her refusal to turn to medication, she pauses and is willing to consider the other side. As she recounts her struggles with the educational institutions and personnel, she is never bitter or unkind. This really endeared her to me. I admire her devotion to her son and her perseverance ...more
Jun 21, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Mothers
LOVE this book. As a mother of a child with special needs, I so appreciated this candid view of how schools operate when a child needs more. The author has a son who is out of the ordinary. He knows jazz musicians by the age of 5 and numbers are colors to him. He just doesn't fit in and his mother battles the school to get him the help he needs. The writing is beautiful and the story a touching illustration of how far a mother will go to help her child. Read it even if you don't have a child wit ...more
Feb 23, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
As parent of a wonderfully eccentric son, I gobbled up this account of a mother coping with an educational system designed for groups rather than individuals.
Some of her dilemmas felt so familiar to me that I cried as I read them. I am not the only person who has felt that way!
Schools and teachers in general come off poorly in this book, which matches my own experience, unfortunately.
The absolutely best aspect of this book is that at no time does the author label her son. He is a unique individu
Apr 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: disabilities
A quick read. I wish she would have written about his last years in school. I'd be interested in learning what he is doing now.

Brought back some unpleasant memories for me. As a Parent Mentor, I see these & other struggles every week. No one has a clue about the world of "special education" until you have a child with a disability & are plunged into it head first. It's a whole different animal.

Mar 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
Written by the last author I just read, Debra Ginsberg, this book is about raising her son Blaze. Blaze does all kinds of quirky things but hasn't ever been officially diagnosed with anything. In the meantime, Debra is getting the run-around from doctors, psychologists, the schools etc. and just about losing her mind. There is no great ending, in fact I wish I knew what Blaze was up to now, but it was a good read for someone who's been there.
I found this book while cleaning out the garage, and it pulled me in so strongly, that I read it in one sitting. Debra Ginsberg wrote a beautiful account of her bright, creative, yet eccentric child who didn't fit into the standard educational system. Her son Blaze has unique disabilities that made for a tumultuous journey through the school system and a challenge for her to raise, yet her love and devotion to her son shows strongly throughout all situations.
Samantha Stein
Jun 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone, especially teachers
This book was fascinating and heartwrenching. As a teacher, I'm faced with diagnoses ("labels") that doctors, psychologists, counselors and fellow educators assign to students who are difficult to reach and these labels can be crippling and unfortunately, permanent. This book is a mother's journey through the school system with her son and her frustrations with labels and special education. It opened my eyes to the experiences of parents who have children with special needs.
Feb 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
This memoir was a good one, but not a great one. It was definitely a personal book. I had read Blaze's own memoir, which was very interestingly written, so I was curious to read this as well, especially since I had read the author's previous books. It is written in nice language. I would definitely recommend this memoir to someone who is the parent of an autistic child. I definitely learned a few things by reading this
Margherita Dolcevita
Nov 14, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: autismo
Penso sia il primo libro che leggo di questo genere e inaspettatamente (lo ammetto) mi è piaciuto moltissimo. E' al tempo stesso forte e delicato, con sprazzi di dolcezza e di sorrisi, l'autrice/mamma è bravissima a non cadere in un facile pietismo e riesce a rendere perfettamente la quotidiana lotta nel crescere un bambino speciale in un mondo forse troppo cieco e ottuso per accoglierlo al meglio.
Oct 26, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: parenting
In considering prenatal testing, I felt the need to check out a bunch of memoirs about raising kids with different abilities. Blaze doesn't have an easily identifyable disorder - he seems to be an exaggeration of his extended family's eccentricities. His mother, who raises him as a single parent, has remarkable strength and advocates for him endlessly.
Dec 13, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: teachers, parents, those interested in alternative ed issues, etc.
Shelves: parenting
This book gives great insight into the troubles with labeling children, how difficult it is to be "outside the norm" and especially the problems "special ed" programs, and the parents and children working inside them, face. I really liked it but it was also sad to see how hard life was for this boy, and how the Outside World made it so. Touching and real.
Jul 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult-nonfiction
A touching book about a mom's struggle to find the right education for her special needs son. It is a fast read, and I became completely absorbed by Ginsberg's story. My heart broke as teachers and the system failed Blaze. I rejoiced as he found what he needed and when he thrived. I'm excited to read his book as well.
Oct 02, 2007 rated it really liked it
My step grandma in law sent me this book because she knows I am an educator. It is an autobiographical account of a mother's struggle with getting her son with special needs through the public education system. You can really empathize with her and appreciate her son for his talents rather than see him for his deficits.
Apr 19, 2013 rated it liked it
This story is very similar to Claire's with the difference of us not fighting the school system every day, month or year. The book was good but frustrating in a lot of ways. I would recommend for people who are curious as to what families undergo when having children who don't fit in to boxes the medical and education system want to put them in.
Apr 28, 2009 rated it liked it
A must read for teachers and parents with a child who just does not always fit. It was an interesting look at how one family strives to nurture a child who is not understood by many of those around him.
Mar 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: will-read-again
I read this in college for an "Intro to Parenting" class. It remains one of the most interesting books I've ever read. The main focus of the book is on a boy named Blaze. He has unique "disabilities" - which make him really cool to read about. I recommend this book to everyone.
Sep 10, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ismeretlenül is nagyra becsülöm és tisztelem az írót. Fantasztikus dolgokat tesz meg a fiáért. Sokan a „más” jelzővel nem illetett gyerekükkel nem foglalkoznak ennyit. :$ Azért arra kiváncsi lettem volna miből tartotta fel a családját.
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Debra M. Ginsberg is a London born, American author. She is the author of three memoirs as well as two novels. Her first memoir Waiting: The True Confessions of a Waitress was published by HarperCollins Publishers in 2000, followed by Raising Blaze: A Mother and Son's Long, Strange Journey Into Autism, which chronicled her longtime struggle to get her son the education he was entitled to.

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