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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.

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CUSTOMER REVIEWS

The Spark
Average rating
4.8 / 5
January 23rd, 2014
I found this book to be incredibly inspiring. Jake would never have been able to tap into his true potential without the encouragement & constant support of his Mother Kristine. She also deserves a medal for what she accomplished when teachers & Doctors told her that Jake would never be able to even tie his own shoes, let alone speak. Having had the benefits of 2 amazing grand parents raise her , Kristine was given love, support , knowledge and all the essential tools to become a well rounded, free thinking, confident woman. I felt this book clearly describes how the intuitive brain can over rule what so called experts tell us. We can keep on questioning what we know to be factual, when our instincts tell us something else. Anyone would benefit from reading this book, especially Dr.'s, educators & parents.
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1 review
January 23rd, 2014
Beautiful and breathtaking and inspiring. Barnett tells the story of her son Jake and how she had to fight against the educational system in order to get him the education he needed. Barnett was told that Jake would never be able to tie his shoes by himself, but with her advocating for him, Jake is now a paid researcher at a university. It's amazing to think how much of a difference educators can make in the lives of their charges. Thanks for the reminder, Barnett.
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1 review
January 23rd, 2014
Such an amazing story! I'm a teacher and will never look at a child with autism the same...this has changed my teaching strategies immensely. A great read, I couldn't put it down!
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1 review
January 23rd, 2014
This was a wonderful and encouraging story. It is a story of hope...
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1 review
January 23rd, 2014
This was a wonderful story and can apply to all children. Our generation of parents know that our children are sponges for information. I started sitting reading cloth books with my son at 3 months and he is at 29 an enthusiastic reader with a ongoing search for knowledge. After reading this book I think there was more I could have done! Kristine was and is a remarkable woman who refused to give up on her son and had the strength and support from her wonderful husband to raise an incredible and well rounded person. Congratulations to her
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1 review
January 23rd, 2014
Inspiration for every Mother. Recommended read for everyone.
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1 review
January 23rd, 2014
What an amazing story. I couldn't put it down. Made me want to be a better mother.
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1 review
January 23rd, 2014
This was one of the most amazing books I have ever read.....truly a special boy and an exceptional mother . well written, it kept me glued to it ,did not want to put it down.....more than a few emotional moments throughout for me. highly recomend this book.
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1 review
January 23rd, 2014
Reminded me of my cousin who has autism. LOVE her so much. It's so heart warming, it made me laugh and cry.... I would recommend this book to anyone!!! Such an inspiring book
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1 review
January 23rd, 2014
This is a beautiful story of a mother's love and understanding. I was very moved by the story.
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1 review
January 23rd, 2014
Beautiful, compelling story. A fantastic portrayal of overcoming adversity, and written in such a heartwarming manner.
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1 review
January 23rd, 2014
Great read, page turner, could not put it down. A real eye opener for all parents of children of any age and ability.
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1 review
January 23rd, 2014
This us for anyone interested in seeing the gifts in their children. Everyone has a gift that can be nurtured, being able to support your child in developing their dreams is the most important gift a parent can give, autistic or not. Thsnks Kristine for seeing every kid as a jem.
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1 review
January 23rd, 2014
So inspiring. Makes you realize that doctors don't always have all the answers.
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1 review
January 23rd, 2014
An inspirational read for all parents. Congratulations to Kristine Barnett for doing such a wonderful job bringing the story to life. It was a pleasure to read this novel.
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1 review
January 23rd, 2014
Amazing book. Shows a mother's true love for her child.
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1 review
January 23rd, 2014
Great book for all parents to read not just those with special needs children. We can all learn something from this book especially the facts that all our children have unique talents and unique needs.
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1 review
January 23rd, 2014
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. An amazing boy.
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1 review
January 23rd, 2014
Excellent book. Kristine Barnett's compassion and tireless commitment to find an alternative method of learning for her incredibly gifted autistic son, and her willingness to share that with others makes for a fascinatiing educational read. Her perspective that behaviours typically labelled as autistic can be harnessed and incorporated into educational methods, instead of simply managed or discouraged, is a perspective I found especially intriguing.
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1 review
January 22nd, 2014
I loved this book. It inspired me as mother would recommend for every parent to read.
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1 review

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