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The Ride Together: A Brother and Sister's Memoir of Autism in the Family    by Paul Karasik & Judy Karasik order for
Ride Together
by Paul Karasik
Order:  USA  Can
Washington Square, 2004 (2003)
Hardcover, Paperback
* *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

Siblings Paul and Judy Karasik have together created a wonderful memoir of growing up with an autistic brother in The Ride Together: A Brother and Sister's Memoir of Autism in the Family. It's an unusual book that sheds light on 'the invisible handicap' known as autism. What makes this memoir unique is that it combine's Judy Karasik's elegant prose with Paul Karasik's bold comics.

When Joan Karasik gave birth to David in 1948, little was known about autism - not much could be done to help children so afflicted. Having a child with this condition meant many adjustments for the family. Judy mentions that she had to be careful which of her friends she invited over, and Paul shows how embarrassed he was when he took David to the movies. However, the whole Karasik family expressed a great deal of love for the eldest son, and worked hard so that he might have a productive life. As David grew older, more and more became known about autism. Eventually he ended up in a community in which he could thrive, but the road there was long and bumpy, and the Karasiks take the reader along on the ride.

Judy's open and engaging anecdotes tell us what it was like living with David. We get to hear about how David would act out his own versions of TV shows everything from Superman to Meet the Press and about how he would get frustrated if his daily schedule was changed. We also learn how Judy and Paul acted and felt when David was away from home at a live-in program; how, even though they loved their brother, they felt they could act more like other kids when he was away. In one poignant chapter, Judy expresses her conflicting feelings after seeing the movie Rain Man, the first popular movie to openly deal with autism.

Paul also expresses his feelings about growing up with his older brother, but rather than tell us in words, he shows us through his drawings. Paul's comics realistically portray his family, yet they also reflect Paul's imagination of what David is feeling. The boldly drawn graphics bring out David's frustrations with such things as not being able to remember all the family barbers' names, but they also show how the real world and the fantasy world of TV and movies mingle for David. Paul also lets us see some of his own antics as a youth, such as switching the signs of the boys' and girls' restrooms in school.

Brother and sister Paul and Judy Karasik create a warm memoir of their family by combining their different, but complementary, story-telling styles. The Ride Together: A Brother and Sister's Memoir of Autism in the Family also presents a perspective on autism that cannot be found in any medical books, making it an insightful read for anyone with an interest in this unique condition.

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