The Spark by Kristine Barnett
A Mother's Story of Nurturing Genius

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Her success with Jake is unimpeachable: He is a “prodigy in math and science” who “began taking college-level courses in math, astronomy, and physics at eight and was accepted to university at nine.” An invigorating, encouraging read.
-Kirkus

Synopsis

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.

Praise for The Spark
 
“[An] amazing memoir . . . compulsive reading.”—The Washington Post
 
The Spark is about the transformative power of unconditional love. If you have a child who’s ‘different’—and who doesn’t?—you won’t be able to put it down.”—Sylvia Nasar, author of A Beautiful Mind
 
“Love, illness, faith, tragedy and triumph—it’s all here. . . . Jake Barnett’s story contains wisdom for every parent.”—Newsday
 
“This eloquent memoir about an extraordinary boy and a resilient and remarkable mother will be of interest to every parent and/or educator hoping to nurture a child’s authentic ‘spark.’”—Publishers Weekly
 
“Compelling . . . Jake is unusual, but so is his superhuman mom.”—Booklist
 
The Spark describes in glowing terms the profound intensity with which a mother can love her child.”—Andrew Solomon, author of The Noonday Demon and Far from the Tree
 
“Every parent and teacher should read this fabulous book!”—Temple Grandin, author of Thinking in Pictures and co-author of The Autistic Brain


From the Hardcover edition.
 

About Kristine Barnett

See more books from this Author
KRISTINE BARNETT is the mother of Jacob Barnett and his three younger siblings. She runs a daycare that includes both typical and special-needs children. She is also the founder of MyJacobsPlace, a nonprofit organization designed to help children with autism, as well as an award-winning sports league for autistic children.


Author Residence: Westfield, IN


Author Hometown: Indianapolis, IN
 
Published April 9, 2013 by Random House. 281 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Parenting & Relationships, Health, Fitness & Dieting, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for The Spark
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Kirkus

Good
on Apr 15 2013

Her success with Jake is unimpeachable: He is a “prodigy in math and science” who “began taking college-level courses in math, astronomy, and physics at eight and was accepted to university at nine.” An invigorating, encouraging read.

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Toronto Star

Excellent
Reviewed by Marcia Kaye on Apr 12 2013

Not only does The Spark give us insights into the fantastically complex world of autism and its effect on families, but it’s a galloping read, full of heart and self-deprecating humour.

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Ann Caswell 5 Sep 2013

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