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3.53  ·  Rating details ·  5,906 ratings  ·  832 reviews
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Dogs of Babel, a taut, emotionally wrenching story of how a seemingly "normal" family could become desperate enough to leave everything behind and move to a "family camp" in New Hampshire--a life-changing experience that alters them forever.

How far will a mother go to save her family? The Hammond family is living in DC, whe
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published August 2nd 2016 by Pamela Dorman Books
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Jill Golla I think you are reading too much into it. I definitely wouldn't say any suggestions were "heavily". I totally identify with Alexandra. My youngest chi…moreI think you are reading too much into it. I definitely wouldn't say any suggestions were "heavily". I totally identify with Alexandra. My youngest child is just on the edge of the Spectrum. Just like Tilly, no clear label (Tilly was labeled with PDD - Not Otherwise Specified) but definitely not neuro-typical. It says the PDD is on the Spectrum but not a typical case of autism. Of course, very little about autism is typical except the fact that it varies greatly between people.) While I do know families where Asperger's exists in parents and children I also know plenty where it is only in one generation. Carolyn Parkhurst did a phenomenal job of getting inside the mind of the parent (mom especially) who worries about their different child while struggling to manage her own fears and feelings of inadequacy while dodging the perceptions of people outside the family and, at the same time, doing her best to help her child navigate the world that is a little bit more cruel to them than it is to others. And if that's not enough, those mom's still have to find time to cry or have a diversion to relieve some of the stress and constant worry.(less)
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Jill Golla I think he'd lived his lift one step ahead of getting caught / being discovered for a fraud, etc and finally he was caught and "outed". His whole adul…moreI think he'd lived his lift one step ahead of getting caught / being discovered for a fraud, etc and finally he was caught and "outed". His whole adult life had been built on his reputation as the persona he'd created. Now that reputation was gone so what did he have left. Based on the brief back story that we read in Ch. 40 it's logical that he would have some form of mental illness and thus to his brain suicide made sense.

I did feel like he shouldn't have done it in front of the children. That makes me wonder if his mental break was bigger than it seemed, or his fraudulent persona was more fraudulent than we thought. (less)

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Average rating 3.53  · 
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 ·  5,906 ratings  ·  832 reviews

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Larry H
Sep 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
"Today you may be the mom whose child seems to old to be having a tantrum in the post office (or the one whose child is touching her head to the floor of a Chinese restaurant—right there, she's doing it again), but tomorrow you may be the mom whose child holds forth on the difference between 'time' and 'thyme' in the produce aisle of the grocery store."

Life for Alexandra Hammond and her husband Josh seemed to be going well, living in Washington, DC, raising two young daughters—not bad for a coup
Diane S ☔
Jul 18, 2016 rated it liked it
3.5 All parents can relate, times when your child or children are so frustrating you feel at the end of your rope, or wish you had one handy. For many this is a temporary state but for others, those with more challenging children the frustration in ongoing, often causing unbearable stress on the parents, their other children and on the marriage itself. This is where Alexandra finds herself, her daughter Tilly, diagnosed with an unspecified disorder on the autism spectrum. Brilliant mind but unab ...more
H.A. Fowler
Jul 29, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to H.A. Fowler by: Penguin/Random House First to Read

This book gave me the creeps from jump. The entire concept of uprooting your family, throwing away everything your children have known (literally) and making some radical Luddite lifestyle change in a cultish camp deep in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, based on the philosophy of a completely childless child behavior "expert" struck me as completely ludicrous. Really? Just... dump your life, give away all your stuff, and move to a pest-ridden cabin in the woods? No. It read like a horror n
Jun 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Alexandra and Josh Hammond have two daughters – Tilly, who is thirteen, and Iris, eleven. Their eldest daughter, Tilly, is on the autistic spectrum and Alexandra is finding it increasingly difficult to cope with her behaviour. Although she loves her dearly, her challenging behaviour has seen her forced to leave school after school, until her mother she feels she has nowhere to go. Compounding her guilt is the fact that she feels she is failing her daughter, or, worse, might be making matters wor ...more
May 02, 2016 rated it liked it
This is a very interesting story with well written perspectives and characters. I read an advanced reader's copy so it will probably be more smooth when it comes out, but very good premise.

The book is told from different perspectives; Alexandra, a mother of two daughters. One has a diagnosis of PDD-NOS. the other is neurotypical. The main perspective is by 11 year old Iris, the NT child. Then there is Tilly, the different one. The family (including a father) sell everything to start a camp calle
Oct 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
I found this book fascinating. Perhaps as the mother of a son who has learning disabilities, I particularly related to this story of a family in crisis over a daughter who is on the spectrum. They are desperate and feel isolated. When Scott Bean, an "educational consultant" offers support, understanding, and a way to cope, they willingly follow him to help run a camp for families in a similar position. The question, of course, is, Are they joining a cult?

The story is written from several perspec
Jul 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
When I was in college, I had this friend, James, and he and I would have those super-sized, far-flung conversations of the type you had when you were in college. We talked at least once about the Jonestown Tragedy because we were both fascinated by cults. That story had terrified him as a child because he had thought that his parents could, under the right circumstances, up and join a similar group. And then before he knew what hit him, he'd be standing in a serving line for suspect flavor water ...more
Jul 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars

This was so good I literally read it in one sitting. The author did a fantastic job of capturing the desperation of these families and showed how far they were willing to go to help their kids. I felt like I was right there with them as I read the book. This brought about a lot of emotions and opinions for me, and that's a sign of good writing. I felt involved (if that makes sense) and like I was part of things.

There were times I questioned how the parents acted, and how they allowed t
Kate Vansuch
Sep 20, 2016 rated it it was ok
Harmony did not end up being what I anticipated. I really like Carolyn Parkhurst's writing and enjoyed her other books. Harmony had great poignant statements and character thoughts but the plot moved slowly and the culmination was kind of strange and anticlimactic. The character of Scott Bean gave hints to a dark side and I was expecting a big secret (especially since he liked hearing the secrets from the kids in the CG). His storyline fizzled along with the conclusion of the experience of the C ...more
Aug 26, 2017 rated it it was ok
I felt that this book could have been better. There was a lot of good information here about spectrum disorders, but there was something missing. I don't think the plot ever really took off, it was just blah. I kept trying to figure out what angle this book was playing at, and I never really could. I didn't know if the main focus was about autism or if the main focus was about this "camp harmony" idea. Overall, I just didn't really like it. ...more
Jessica Jeffers
Jan 03, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
This is a book with a powerful message--per a Litsy user, "kids with autism are people, not problems"--but the plotting didn't really satisfy me. Full review to come. ...more
Alexandra and Josh Hammond love their daughters Tilly and Iris fiercely and completely. But Tilly has been diagnosed on the autism spectrum and presents quite a challenge. She can be brilliant, creative and clever, but also frustrating, uncontrollable and exhausting. Alexandra will do anything to find the help and support she so desperately seeks in order to be a good parent to Tilly and Iris. So when by a random chance she connects with Scott Bean, who proclaims to have all the answers, she fee ...more
Julia O'connell
Sep 25, 2016 rated it it was ok
I had high hopes for this novel after reading very positive reviews, but in the end I found Pankhurst failed to deliver on a premise full of possibility.

The premise: an upper-middle-class professional couple in Washington, DC makes the decision to uproot their family, sell their house, abandon their source of income and their children's education, and move off-grid to live in a commune on the advice of an uncredentialed but charismatic "specialist" who promises to help their autistic daughter.

Jun 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars. What do you do when your child (on the autism spectrum) has been kicked out of all the schools in your area? Desperate to find a place to raise their two girls, the Hammonds are driven to extreme measures and move to Camp Harmony, led by the complicated and charismatic Scott Bean. Harmony is fast-paced and unsettling with convincing characters - especially the children, Tilly and Iris.
Anna Nesterovich
The blurb says that it's a book about a desperate family, who turns to the last resort to help their daughter after she is kicked out even from a school for children with special needs. Based on that blurb I was expecting a psychological drama that would explain how the family managed to deal with their situation in the end. Those expectations were completely false. An "unputdownable story" (such a lovely word)? About the strength of love, the bonds of family, and how you survive the unthinkable ...more
Jan 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
A title like this puts you on edge right away, asking how things might turn out to be unharmonious. Camp Harmony is parenting guru Scott Bean’s brainchild: a New Hampshire getaway for problem children and their families. When the Hammonds leave their Washington, D.C. life behind and set out for Camp Harmony in the early summer of 2012, they’re at the end of their rope with their 13-year-old daughter, Tilly, who’s on the autistic spectrum and has been let go from her special school because of her ...more
Jul 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley

An interesting book about a family dealing with their daughter who is on the autism spectrum. Or as the mother says “ Asperger's is almost right, but it doesn't describe her completely; you also suspect that Tourette’s may play a role, though you haven't really explored it. Labels oversimplify...but they also serve a purpose”. It's fascinating to see how each member of the family deals with the situation. The story is told from alternating points of view between the mother (the back history) and
Nov 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
A beautifully written story of a family in enough of a crisis to pack it all up and move to the sea of trees, New Hampshire . There they join others with similar struggles in the hope that their ‘guru’ will help them find a new and improved way to parent and be healthy families. In a short period of time ( there are dates at the start of each chapter) we witness the peaks and valleys of this experiment. The ending, which I won’t reveal, was not what I expected. This, and the other surprises alon ...more
Jul 01, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: firstreads
After reading an advanced copy of the book, I was angry at the characters especially Alexandra. I have worked with kids like Tilly for ten years and know how hard it is day in and day out. But I can't think a mother would think a camp like this would be a good idea for anyone's children. I know it's a fictional story but it it too close to home. I kept thinking of the things we do and how our behavioral specialist would have had a field day with Scott. ...more
May 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
All the stars. This book. It knows. Glad I read it.
Jun 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
This the story of a families journey living with a daughter who is not typical, "on the spectrum."

The author does a good job at conveying and demonstrating that each and every individual labelled as "on the spectrum" is different. What works for one individual may not work for another.

I love how the family grew, and how this was similar in ways to what the parents of the individuals I work for have told me of their own journeys.

I received a copy of this in exchange for an honest review.
Abbie | ab_reads
Nov 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
This one was kindly gifted to me by @willoughbybooks and I was meant to post this as a ‘currently reading’ update but I’m a machine lately and ended up finishing it last night SO, a mini review instead!
The premise of this book is an unusual one: a family of four decide to up and move to Camp Harmony, a new set up by educational guru Scott Bean which is a camp for families with ‘difficult’ children. Tilly Hammonds is 13 and on the autistic spectrum, and the book explores the family’s dynamics wh
May 25, 2016 rated it did not like it
*I received a copy of this from the publisher through a Goodreads giveaway.*
I wasn't enjoying this book and after some deliberation I chose not to force myself to finish it.
I was originally really intrigued by the premise of the story, and especially excited to read a novel exploring the effect having a child on the autistic spectrum has on the parents and the siblings of said child. (One of our close family friends has a child with Autism and watching how this effected their family before and a
Lori L (She Treads Softly)
Aug 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Harmony by Carolyn Parkhurst is a very highly recommended, original modern family drama.

Alexandra and Josh Hammond are raising two girls, Tilly, 13, and Iris, 11. They have struggled with the challenges of raising Tilly, who is on the autism spectrum and has officially been diagnosed as PDD-NOS, or "pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified." Tilly can be remarkable, but she can also be overwhelming. Alexandra has been talking and getting advice from Scoot Bean, a child developmen
Oct 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: chic-lit
From the prologue, the reader knows that this story will not end well. Additionally, the prologue hints of a disaster involving a charismatic fellow and his devotees. From the novel description, the reader learns the story involves a family with two daughters, one falling on the autism spectrum, and the parent’s devotion to the wisdom of a “self-styled behavior guru”.

Author Carolyn Parkhurst tells her story from the perspectives of the two daughters, Iris and Tilly, and their mother, Alexandra.
Nov 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, 2018
Carolyn Parkhurst is a favorite of mine.

Parkhurst approaches difficult topics with a level of wry humor and honesty that can be downright devastating. She writes without much care for whether or not the reader is comfortable, and is adept at forcing the reader to confront the more difficult and extreme sides of human nature. In this case, she writes about the difficulty of raising a child on the autism spectrum - the unknowns, the unpredictability, the love, and the frustration. She writes abo
Dec 12, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: audio-book, reviewed
I am an avid reader. The books I read are about evenly divided between my kindle and audiobooks (as well as the occasional book book). There are some books that translate perfectly to the listening experience and Harmony by Carolyn Parkhurst was such a book. In a broad way it's about what you come to see more and more to be, a cult. But it's not a cult in the traditional way where the leader has to slowly convince the participants to drink his cool aid, because these particular participants are ...more
Sep 11, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audible
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kasa Cotugno
Jul 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
Last week I wrote a review of a book about a family with a son on the spectrum, observing that it seems all in such books I'd read it was a father dealing with a son with the condition. Here, a daughter's condition provides the cause for a family to uproot itself, sell all, and move from Washington DC to a New Hampshire lakeside camp purported to promote understanding among such families. Told from the viewpoint of the women in the family, it gives an entirely new slant as to what it means. Thir ...more
Sep 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
A stunning look at what it means to be a parent -- the choices we make and how they impact our families and children. Harmony is about a family with an autistic child and the lengths they will go to create and find a nurturing environment for their daughter. For the Hammond family, it means leaving behind everything they know for an utopian camp run by a child behavior guru. Told through alternating perspectives of mother and daughter, Harmony shows us just how far we will go for family and what ...more
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Carolyn Parkhurst is an American author who has published two books. Her first, the 2003 best-seller The Dogs of Babel, was a New York Times Notable Book. She followed that effort with Lost and Found in June 2006.

Parkhurst received her B.A. degree from Wesleyan University and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from American University.

She currently resides in Washington, D.C.

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