August's Donated Book
To Siri with Love: A Mother, Her Autistic Son, and the Kindness of Machines
By Judith Newman
Yes, this is a book about autism but it is also about so much more. In a series of funny, poignant and uplifting stories, To Siri with Lovebeautifully describes Newman’s experiences living with her extraordinary son, who has helped her see the world differently. From the charming (Gus’s insistence on bringing his iPod to the Apple store so it can visit its friends”), to the painful (being asked to medicate him when he was only six), to the humorous (Gus’s habit of meowing at strange women if they happened to have particularly pretty “feeties”), to the profound (how an automated “assistant” helped a boy learn to communicate with the rest of the world), the stories in To Siri with Love open our eyes to the magic and challenges of a life beyond the ordinary.
It began when Judith Newman’s thirteen-year-old autistic son noticed that there was someone who not only would find information on his various obsessions (trains, planes, escalators, and anything related to the weather) but also would actually semi-discuss them with him tirelessly. Her name was Siri and she lived in his mother’s iPhone.
Newman’s story of her son and his bond with Siri is an unusual tribute to technology. While many worry that our electronic gadgets are dumbing us down, she reveals how they can give voice to others, including children with autism, like Gus – a boy who has trouble looking people in the eye, who hops when he’s happy, and who connects with inanimate objects on an empathetic level.
As author Sandra Tsing Loh writes, “To Siri With Loveis a ‘major chord’ memoir in a sometimes ‘minor chord’ world (in the words of our hero Gus)…. While exploring the complexities of being human, it is also, in the end, the enduring story of family and all the mysteries, crises, and unexpected joys therein.” This book will pull you in and not let you go until the final page. It might also help you feel compassion for some strange quirks in your own friends and family. Why does he keep making those repetitive noises when he knows it drives me crazy?..
Judith Newman is the author of You Make Me Feel Like an Unnatural Woman, a regular contributor to the New York TimesStyle Section and People, and a contributing editor to Allureand Prevention. She has also written for Vanity Fair, Harper’s Bazaar, the Wall Street Journal, Vogue,Redbook, GQ, Marie Claire, and Cosmopolitan. She and her sons live in Manhattan.