Sunday, November 22, 2009

Book Review: Louder than Words by Jenny McCarthy

Let me start by saying that I had absolutely no idea that Jenny McCarthy was a celebrity when I picked this book up. I picked it up out of interest in autism, particularly personal family stories of autism. It wasn't until I started listening that I realized she was a celebrity and, even then, I didn't recognize her. I looked her up after I finished the book and, sure enough, I've never seen the woman in anything before on TV or in movies or in Playboy. We seem to travel in different circles, Jenny and I.

Onto the book itself. I listened to Louder than Words, which was narrated by Tavia Gilbert, who did such a good job of reading it that I was thinking it was McCarthy herself who'd read it.

One morning McCarthy's son, Evan, goes into seizure and, thus, starts her journey. It takes a while before the mystery of what's wrong with Evan is discovered and, as a reader, you get a real sense of the struggle Jenny goes through as a mother trying to figure it out and, then, doing what she can to pull Evan "through the window," a metaphor for healing autism.

McCarthy is a devoted mother and, frankly, has the financial situation to pull off some amazing things for her son. She says in the book that she isn't rich, and, no, she's probably not fabulously rich, but she can afford a part time nanny, a heart rate monitor for her son so she feels comfortable leaving him alone at night, $3000 a week in out of pocket costs for therapy and other treatment and a private jet (sometimes) to fly back and forth in emergencies just to give you a feel. I don't care how how much we stretched our personal finances, we couldn't manage all that.

McCarthy is adamant about vaccines with mercury causing autism. This may or may not be true. I believe that the jury is still out on this one. If you feel strongly that vaccines are safe, you will become pissed off reading this book and I'd avoid it.

McCarthy is strongly religious and relies heavily on her beliefs to get her through these rough times. I didn't have a problem with religion in this book, as it was simply her story and not overly preachy, but it is definitely there. Likewise, if you aren't a fan of swearing, I'd avoid McCarthy's books in general.

Overall, I thought the book was interesting, but that McCarthy is somewhat self absorbed in her world view. While that's probably true of most of us, when you encounter it in another who's world view is different, it can be a little grating. I give Louder than Words a 6.5.

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