The Spark

The Spark

A Mother's Story of Nurturing Genius

Audiobook CD - 2013
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Kristine Barnett's son Jacob has an IQ higher than Einstein's, a photographic memory, and he taught himself calculus in two weeks. At nine he started working on an original theory in astrophysics that experts believe may someday put him in line for a Nobel Prize, and at age twelve he became a paid researcher in quantum physics. But the story of Kristine's journey with Jake is all the more remarkable because his extraordinary mind was almost lost to autism. At age two, when Jake was diagnosed, Kristine was told he might never be able to tie his own shoes.
The Spark is a remarkable memoir of mother and son. Surrounded by "experts" at home and in special ed who tried to focus on Jake's most basic skills and curtail his distracting interests--moving shadows on the wall, stars, plaid patterns on sofa fabric--Jake made no progress, withdrew more and more into his own world, and eventually stopped talking completely. Kristine knew in her heart that she had to make a change. Against the advice of her husband, Michael, and the developmental specialists, Kristine followed her instincts, pulled Jake out of special ed, and began preparing him for mainstream kindergarten on her own.
Relying on the insights she developed at the daycare center she runs out of the garage in her home, Kristine resolved to follow Jacob's "spark"--his passionate interests. Why concentrate on what he couldn't do? Why not focus on what he could?  This basic philosophy, along with her belief in the power of ordinary childhood experiences (softball, picnics, s'mores around the campfire) and the importance of play, helped Kristine overcome huge odds.
The Barnetts were not wealthy people, and in addition to financial hardship, Kristine herself faced serious health issues. But through hard work and determination on behalf of Jake and his two younger brothers, as well as an undying faith in their community, friends, and family, Kristine and Michael prevailed. The results were beyond anything anyone could have imagined.
Dramatic, inspiring, and transformative, The Spark is about the power of love and courage in the face of overwhelming obstacles, and the dazzling possibilities that can occur when we learn how to tap the true potential that lies within every child, and in all of us.
Publisher: Toronto : Random House Audio, p2013.
Edition: Unabridged.
ISBN: 9780449009628
Characteristics: 9 compact discs (10.5 hrs.) :,digital ;,12 cm.
Additional Contributors: Mazur, Kathe


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Jan 22, 2016

I find it hard to comment on memoirs, especially if I didn't independently have any knowledge of the person or events in question. Overall I felt this book was well written and well paced, though at times the narrative did take on the feel of a Lifetime movie (without any judgement on Lifetime movies, it just reminded me of one).
The book is a good example of how life's unexpected twists and turns often take one to the edge, the needs for steadfast beliefs and persistence that in turn enable one to come up with creative solutions. I felt the byline about nurturing genius is a wee bit misleading - in fact I think it undersells the book because the problems the family has to deal with go way beyond "just" managing a hyper-intelligent boy diagnosed with autism.

I would recommend this book to other readers.

Jun 08, 2014

The Spark conveys a critical message in evaluating our education methodologies which dictate the curriculum our children must follow to become "productive" does a society which dictates what the masses learn to be a citizen support the ideology of democracy? How does the public school system differ from the "residential schools" which were to assimilate Aboriginal into the dominate culture?

smc01 Feb 10, 2014

An absolutely inspiring, uplifting, amazing story. I don't often tell my family about what I'm reading, but this was a story I shared with them several times, and we all listened to Jake talk at the end of the CD. Any parent will be inspired by this story, and I hope will try to find the spark in his or her own child.

Jul 06, 2013

What a wonderful book this is!! The mom in this situation is amazing. I'm very impressed with her approach to finding out what will work best with her child, and with other children, in order that they might flourish. Brilliant, and highly recommended to all moms, whether or not they have autistic kids that will turn out to be brilliant scientists.

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