Rating (Out of 5): ~3.5
Publisher: Yen Press
Release Date: 2007
Born during the sunrise - an auspicious beginning - the Azumas' newborn son is named Hikaru, which means "light". But during one play date, his mother notices that her son is slightly different from the other children. In the alternately heartwarming and bittersweet tale, a young mother tries to cope with both the overwhelming discovery of her child's autism and the trials of raising him while keeping her family together. This is a story that resonates not only for those whose families have been affected by autism, but also for all past, present, and future parents.
I’ve been interested in this book ever since I first heard about it. And I’m glad I finally picked it up.
Sachiko Azuma is at first perfectly happy. She’s happily married to a business man and just gave birth to her first baby boy. But then her husband starts working more and is never happy when home. And her perfect baby boy cries all the time and doesn’t like it when she holds him. He acts different than the other kids, but Sachiko doesn’t know how to handle it.
When it gets so bad she can’t handle it, she has to accept that her son is autistic, and then she has a fight with her husband.
It’s really tough at times, and seemed really realistic. Harshly realistic, really. Because at this point, few people knew what autism was, and most believed that it was caused by the mother not raising the child correctly. Hikaru, her son, is definitely hard to get to know; he doesn’t talk, he doesn’t understand social conventions, he doesn’t like being touched. But slowly, Sachiko learns how to handle him, how to teach him in a way he’ll understand, and she meets people who understand and help her.
Living with autism is hard, and it takes a while for Sachiko to get used to it, to really understand it. But I like that she grew confident in herself and how she dealt with Hikaru, even in public. I especially liked that she didn’t try to hide it, that she was honest with everyone around her when it became apparent that something was odd with Hikaru. And it was nice that her husband and family backed her up about it.
I wasn’t sure where her marriage was going to go in the beginning, because her husband was just a jerk. But after their fight, when he gets overworked, he has to face reality and decide that being with his family is more important. I was really happy when he started really caring for Sachiko again, and when he started paying attention to Hikaru. That was really nice to see.
I was really impressed with this book. The writing is a little immature, rushed at times, but that got better throughout the book. Mostly, the look at autism was so realistic, and I was impressed with how it was handled. And not only with the Azuma’s household and family life, but the side characters have really realistic personalities and troubles.
I was really happy with this book, and I’m glad I picked it up.