The Anti-Romantic Child
A Story of Unexpected Joy
By Priscilla Gilman
(Harper, Hardcover, 9780061690273, 304pp.)
Publication Date: May 1, 2011
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Priscilla Gilman had the greatest expectations for the birth of her first child. Growing up in New York City amongst writers, artists, and actors, Gilman experienced childhood as a whirlwind of imagination, creativity, and spontaneity. As a Wordsworth scholar, she celebrated and embraced the poet's romantic view of childrenand eagerly anticipated her son's birth, certain that he, too, would come "trailing clouds of glory." But her romantic vision would not be fulfilled in the ways she dreamed. Though Benjamin was an extraordinary child, the signs of his precocitydazzling displays of memory and intelligencewere also manifestations of a developmental disorder that would require intensive therapies and special schooling, and would dramatically alter the course Priscilla had imagined for her family.
In The Anti-Romantic Child, a memoir full of lyricism and light, Gilman explores the complexity of our hopes for our children, our families, and ourselves, and the way in which experience can alter and lead us to reimagine those hopes and expectations. Using Wordsworth's poetry as a touchstone, she speaks intimately of her poignant journey through crisis and disenchantment to a place of peace and resilience. Through her courageous account, we discover how events and situations often perceived as setbacks can actually inspire and enrich us. Developing a supple and open mind is important, this book reminds us, not only with respect to our children but also with respect to our relationship with any person whose otherness is at first disorienting. As she goes beyond her family's trials and ultimate triumphs, Gilman illuminates the flourishing of life that occurs when we embrace the unexpected. The Anti-Romantic Child is an incredible synthesis of memoir and literature, one that resonates long after you finish the last page.
Priscilla Gilman grew up in New York City and is a former professor of English literature at Yale University and Vassar College. She has taught poetry appreciation to inmates in a restorative justice program and to New York City public school students. The Anti-Romantic Child, her first book, was excerpted in Newsweek magazine and featured on the cover of its international edition; it was an NPR Morning Edition Must-Read, Slate's Book of the Week, and selected as one the Best Books of 2011 by the Leonard Lopate Show. Gilman writes regularly for publications including the Daily Beast, the New York Times, and the Huffington Post, speaks frequently at schools, conferences, and organizations about parenting, education, and the arts, and is a Scholar/Facilitator for the New York Council for the Humanities. She lives in New York City with her family. The Anti-Romantic Child has been nominated for a Books for a Better Life Award for Best First Book.