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Best Boy

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  4,328 ratings  ·  683 reviews
Sent to a therapeutic community for autism at the age of eleven, Todd Aaron, now in his fifties, is the Old Fox of Payton LivingCenter. A joyous man who rereads the encyclopedia compulsively, he is unnerved by the sudden arrivals of a menacing new staffer and a disruptive, brain-injured roommate. His equilibrium is further worsened by Martine, a one-eyed new resident who h ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published May 24th 2016 by Liveright (first published August 18th 2015)
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Average rating 3.69  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,328 ratings  ·  683 reviews

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Diane S ☔
Jun 24, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As soon as you start reading you enter the mind and thoughts of fifty something Todd Aaron, an autistic man who has lived at the Payton Living Center for a good portion of his life. The wonderful and sometimes strange ways he looks at things and people. One cannot help but take this character to heart. He is trusted at the Center being the oldest resident there, and is usually quite content with things with a few exceptions. His new room=mate at the cottage who tries repeatedly to give Todd, wha ...more
Angela M
Jun 24, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

The first person narrative by an autistic man is as the description notes , reminiscent of the teenage narrative in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night . I don't know a lot about autism , but what I do know is that I certainly felt the tension and anxiety that Todd feels as he described when he is having "an attack of volts " and we clearly see how much he really wants to go home .

There's a sweetness here as Todd looks up the definition of love on Mr. C , a computer. There's also sadne
Feb 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humor, favorites
Most often it takes a few chapters before I can truly say, “I’m enjoying this book”. Not so with Best Boy. I liked it from page one, in the spot I met Todd Aaron. You see, Todd is easy to like. He is joyful but routine; smart but simple; inquisitive but tentative. Well who isn’t I say. Sometimes Todd gets the volts. That comes with his autism.

So what’s this story about? It’s about Todd, yes, but through Todd’s narrative, I found that it was the story about people. He has spent 41 years at Payton
Dec 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
”You were a best boy who became a beautiful man and made everybody who knew you very proud.”

Imagine seeing the world through the eyes of someone who is completely defenseless against it. Someone incapable of deception, who does not distinguish laughter from contempt in people he doesn’t know. A person who experiences a completely different world than the one you and I inhabit – both scarier and more wondrous. Now imagine just how easily he could be taken advantage of, or become lost, confused, a
This story is told by Todd Aaron, a man in his 50s who is autistic. I thought the author did a great job writing from his point of view. I have always had a special place in my heart for people with special needs, and I am interested in stories like this that are told well.
I loved this book!
I absolutely loved this book. I know that a large part of my enjoyment of it, is because my son is on the autism spectrum. I saw a lot of him in Todd. It also was a good look into what might go through my son's mind at times, why he struggles in certain situations.

My own personal experiences aside, this book was beautifully written. It makes you laugh, it makes you cry. It was a great read.
Todd, an autistic man has lived at Payton Living Center for decades. Todd was dropped off at the age of 13, when his family could no longer tolerate his occasional violent outbursts. Told by his mother when she leaves him to be the "best boy" possible, Todd has tried to live by the rules and finds happiness in the memories of his beloved mother. Now his brother is his caretaker, someone who was cruel to Todd as a boy, and now does his duty from what a appears to be a guilty conscious. Lucky for ...more
Jan 05, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This wasn't my home. It pretended to be. It pretended with all its might that it was filled with people who were my family and also that it was the right place for me. But none of these things were true and they never would be.

3.5 stars
For me this is a story about love - the beautiful kind (his mom and Raykene) and the more complicated kind (his brother and sister-in-law). There are many novels about kids with autism but this is the first one I've read about an adult, which gives you a very dif
Connie G
When his mother brought Todd Aaron to the Payton Living Center, she gave her autistic son words to live by: "Life has a song of happiness at the heart of it, but you can only hear that song if you work hard and are always a Best Boy and do exactly what you are told." Forty years later, Todd has a childlike innocence, enjoys music, and has an excellent memory for information in the Encyclopedia Britannica (Mr B) and on the computer (Mr C). He's a good worker on the lawn crew or cafeteria line. Wh ...more
Nov 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Unfortunately I don't have time to do full reviews for any books right now but this was a magnificent and unique read. This is not another "he's fascinating because he has asperger's syndrome" book (although I love those). The character in this book deals with some undefined autism spectrum disorder and being developmentally delayed. Both the main character and the supporting characters are very believable. To me, a great novel is all about deep, complex, believable characters. When you finish a ...more
Jul 26, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, arc
Best Boy, by Eli Gottlieb, is told from the perspective of Todd Aaron, an autistic fifty-something-year old man and long-time resident of Payton Living Center, a therapeutic community for people with developmental disorders. Though Todd demonstrates certain levels of higher functioning, in that he reads (the Encyclopedia Britannica is his favorite), uses a computer, pines for a girlfriend, enjoys travel, etc., he still has only limited understanding of what is going on around him--which means th ...more
Barbara A.
Mar 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Exceptional and powerful. Reminds me more of Temple Grandin's The Way I See It than Curious Incident as the narrator is a grown man who has lived in care for years and years. There is so much here to think about. Some of the passages are honest, affecting, and deeply poetic. I know I will continue to reflect on this book for a very long time. ...more
Jul 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: august-2015
“What happens when someone on the autism spectrum grows up, and they aren’t a cute little boy anymore? Gottlieb’s novel follows the story of Todd Aaron, a man in his fifties who has spent most of his life a resident of the Payton Living Center. Todd begins to wonder what lies beyond the gates of his institution. A funny and deeply affecting work.”

Elizabeth Olesh, Baldwin Public Library, Baldwin, NY
A brilliantly imagined and insightful story narrated by Todd, an autistic man in his 50s who has spent most of his life in institutions. But Todd's very orderly world is thrown into chaos when a new resident and a malevolent new staff member arrive at Payton Living Center. This remarkable book will remain with readers long after they have turned the last page. Highly recommended. ...more
Alissa Patrick
Jul 05, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 Stars

Brilliant, just brilliant. This novel is written in the first-person of an autistic, adult man named Todd who lives in a center and is just trying to get by everyday with who he is. I had tears in my eyes a lot while listening to it. This story was almost a 5-star read, but there were a few storylines that I wished had tighter finishes. But overall, just incredible. I loved it.
Dec 23, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was really disappointed with this book because I liked it so much, and then it was suddenly just over. The whole book they seemed to be building up to something that never happened. Characters were introduced and things were coming together into a climax, and then suddenly they weren't and the characters were gone, no exit, no goodbyes, nothing -- the pace of the book came to a grinding halt and it was suddenly, "the end."

Best Boy has a sort of unique charm and an original tone that I found to
Oct 20, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult-fiction
Eli Gottlieb, the author of BEST BOY, does have a brother with autism who has been institutionalized since the age of 11. Gottlieb’s background and family history provides a realistic backdrop to this engaging and illuminating novel about an autistic man, now in his 50’s, living in a therapeutic community. Gottlieb chose to write this story in first person, which allows the reader to understand, somewhat, the mind of an autistic person.

Realistic fiction bestows the benefits of learning about lif
Feb 15, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: contemporary
I really enjoyed the authenticity of this book. It was well researched and it was well written. I thought it was a perfect idea to write this from the perspective of an adult male with autism who lives in a home. He has a brother who visits occasionally and his parents are deceased. The author tapped into the many relationships in a way that felt honest and true. I loved the layers of description. I just wanted to climb in and help Todd out especially when people expected him to understand their ...more
May 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a great read!! Do yourself a favor and check it out when published - I don't think you will regret it. ...more
Carol Ann
Jul 27, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A beautiful and redemptive tale of family, autism, and love. Fresh telling of adult autism makes this story even more compelling. Bravo Mr. Gottlieb, bravo! Much much love.
Oct 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
What a beautiful story, I loved it.
❤Marie Gentilcore
Sep 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook, 2017
This story is about an autistic man named Todd Aaron. Todd narrates the story and we learn about his life as a villager at Payton Living Center where he is an elder. He has been at this home for many years. Todd reminisces about his life before coming to Payton and now he wants to go home. I really enjoyed the story and the way the author wrote it in Todd’s voice. I don’t have experience with anyone with autism but Todd’s autism felt authentic.
Susan (aka Just My Op)
Although there are currently hundred, it seems, novels about autistic characters, they still interest me when done well. Initially, I didn't think this one would do anything to set itself apart. Then I learned more about Todd, an autistic adult living in a residential center for people with various mental challenges.

What makes this book more readable than some of the others is the voice of Todd. He has a unique way of observing, of expressing himself, of thinking.

“Pets belong to the same categ
Diane Yannick
I have mixed feelings about this book. I was interested to read about an autistic man in his 50's who had even institutionalized since age 13. Most of the books I've read have been about cute, quirky kids. The author's autistic brother was institutionalized at age 11 which gave him an authentic voice. Todd, who narrates the entire novel, is a resident of the Payton Living Center. The description of "the volts" which caused him to lose control gave me amazing insight. His spiky cognition was clea ...more
Thanks to the publisher for an advance reader's copy.

This novel is told from the point of view from an autistic adult named Todd, and his routines and minimal interactions with the world beyond his assisted living facility keep the plot spare. But Todd's limited narration belies the complexity of the information that he's giving the reader, even if he doesn't realize all the implications himself. While this could be used to give a pessimistic view of the world (and there is some of that), the ul
JoAnne Pulcino

Eli Gottlieb

A candid and terribly interesting book concerning care for the handicapped and how their lives develop. Todd Arron was sent to a therapeutic community for the care of autism when he was eleven. Todd is now fifty years old and the oldest resident in the community who obsessively reads the Encyclopedia Britannica and is quite content. That is until a new roommate, a menacing new staffer, and a fascinating and dangerous unusual young girl arrives, Todd is thrown and has some ne
Kelly Bules
Jan 07, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a lovely little book. It's not big on plot, just character. The audio version was performed beautifully by Bronson Pinchot.
It centers around the life of Todd. A grown man with autism who lives in an assisted living facility. To see the world through his eyes was heartbreaking at times, funny at others. It is sensitive in tone. Some of the descriptive passages were just amazing - the way Todd interprets the world around him and the people he interacts with. I enjoyed this very much.
Oct 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
"What was once thought to be a rare, severe ailment is now recognized to be a common neurobehavioral disorder that occurs along a broad spectrum."

'Best Boy' is a "special" book about a "special" life in words that are just that....SPECIAL!
I mean it. The story is beautiful. Not like any of your usual high adrenaline mystery-thrillers or psychological puzzles. (I did wonder for a while though, if I would have to be sweating over our clueless autistic protagonist being taken advantage of by "Mike t
Sep 05, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Full review at

Eli Gottlieb's new novel Best Boy is told from the perspective of a 50-something autistic man named Todd. The elder statesman of his residential facility, Todd was institutionalized from a young age due to his developmental challenges. He's highly functioning, but has many of the hallmarks of autism: he can't process certain sensory inputs, he finds great comfort in routine, he's not empathetic or good at interpreting others' social cues and
Aug 30, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well done novel written in the voice of a middle aged autistic man who sees things and people in the world from strikingly lovely angles. It felt as though the author took to heart Emily Dickinson's words, "Tell all the truth, but tell it slant."

i.e. "I've taken a pen and blacked out the faces of the animals. I can't explain why they frighten me so much, but they do. Pets belong to the same category as typewriters that are filled with millipede arms which wave up and down to hit the paper and ca
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