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Daniel Isn't Talking

3.58  ·  Rating details ·  1,804 ratings  ·  262 reviews
A moving, deeply absorbing story of a family in crisis. What sets it apart from most fiction about difficult subjects such as autism, is the author's ability to write about a sad and frightening situation with a seamless blend of warmth, compassion and humor.

Marti Leimbach's first novel, Dying Young, was called "a masterpiece of details that always ring true, with the sad,
Paperback, 288 pages
Published May 8th 2007 by Anchor (first published 2006)
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Average rating 3.58  · 
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 ·  1,804 ratings  ·  262 reviews

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Aug 06, 2012 rated it did not like it
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 23, 2008 rated it did not like it
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. ...more
May 14, 2010 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 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 rated it really liked it
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
Nov 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
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 21, 2009 rated it it was ok
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 rated it really liked it
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 rated it it was ok
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 rated it did not like it
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.
Feb 10, 2011 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: readers of: autistic fiction, gentle reads, women's lives, family relationships
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 rated it it was amazing
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 rated it it was ok
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 rated it did not like it
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????????
Sep 03, 2007 rated it did not like it
Didn't like this one at all. It had a completely unbelievable fairy-tale ending. ...more
Jan 20, 2010 rated it did not like it
No good at all. The mother was infuriating.
Aug 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just amazing

I didn’t like this book to start with. I was cross with the adult characters, cross with the misinformation, just cross. But I kept going because I hate leaving a book part read.

I am so glad. By the end I was rooting for Andy (and fancying him a bit!) and the list of websites at the end is a godsend. I’ve been teaching a while, and more
Information is always good.
Sep 22, 2019 rated it liked it
Rather heartbreaking, but realistic. Melanie knows something isn’t quite right with her son, but her husband would rather just ship him off to a school where they don’t have to work with him. Well written, but choppy writing at times
Mar 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Vaccines don’t cause autism. Unorthodox ideas don’t cure it. But autistic kids are real individuals with real families, and Marti Leimback’s novel convincingly evokes that reality with engaging humor and enthralling detail. The only way I knew this book was fiction, in fact, was from the way those details drew me to share the protagonist’s life rather than just hearing about it.

An American woman living in England, Melanie feels that slight detachment from reality familiar to expats everywhere. A
Aug 07, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Oct 17, 2011 rated it liked it
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 14, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Jan 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Achingly beautiful, the sadness notwithstanding.... A guy who buckles under the weight of an ill child and quits was not worth their love from the onset. Shame on all you Stephens out there!
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.
Saleh MoonWalker
Jul 29, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, contemporary
Onvan : Daniel Isn't Talking - Nevisande : Marti Leimbach - ISBN : 307275728 - ISBN13 : 9780307275721 - Dar 288 Safhe - Saal e Chap : 2006 ...more
Fiona Beswick
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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I write contemporary fiction for young adults and adults, though right now I'm concentrating on my YA thriller series, kicking off with Dragonfly Girl published by Harper Collins Feb '21.

I'm on Goodreads some, but if you have questions you can also find me on Twitter

In addition to all things literary, I'm interested in neurodiversity, young inventors, and science.

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