Best Boy (Paperback)
Liveright, 9781631491924, 272pp.
Publication Date: May 24, 2016
September 2015 Indie Next List
— Mark Ingraham (E), Powell's Books, Inc, Portland, OR
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Named one of the Best Books of the Year by the Washington Post, Booklist, BookPage, Library Journal, and Library Reads
A New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice Selection
An IndieNext Selection
A People Magazine Pick of the Week
Winner of the Rome Prize
Winner of the American Initiative for Italian Culture “The Bridge” Book Award
Longlisted for the International DUBLIN Literary Award
Longlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence (Fiction)
"Raw and beautiful. . . . What rises and shines from the page is Todd Aaron, a hero of such singular character and clear spirit that you will follow him anywhere. You won’t just root for him, you will fight and push and pray for him to wrest control of his future. You will read this book in one sitting or maybe two, and, I promise, you will miss this man deeply when you are done.” —Ann Bauer, Washington Post
Sent to a “therapeutic community” for autism at the age of eleven, Todd Aaron, now in his fifties, is the “Old Fox” of Payton LivingCenter. A joyous man who rereads the encyclopedia compulsively, he is unnerved by the sudden arrivals of a menacing new staffer and a disruptive, brain-injured roommate. His equilibrium is further worsened by Martine, a one-eyed new resident who has romantic intentions and convinces him to go off his meds to feel “normal” again. Undone by these pressures, Todd attempts an escape to return “home” to his younger brother and to a childhood that now inhabits only his dreams. Written astonishingly in the first-person voice of an autistic, adult man, Best Boy—with its unforgettable portraits of Todd’s beloved mother, whose sweet voice still sings from the grave, and a staffer named Raykene, who says that Todd “reflects the beauty of His creation”—is a piercing, achingly funny, finally shattering novel no reader can ever forget.
About the Author
Praise For Best Boy: A Novel…
— Bret Anthony Johnston
Arresting. . . . The book’s empathy is bracing.
Powerful and engaging. . . . A deeply moving portrait of a kind and gentle soul. Recommended for all readers.
— Patrick Sullivan
Amid the flood of books about autism in childhood comes this gripping novel about the fresher territory of autism in midlife. It is written with elan, wit, and great empathy, and it limns in fiction the crisis our nation faces in real life as we try to construct viable supports for this burgeoning population.
— Andrew Solomon
A remarkable achievement—an intimate and convincing portrayal of what the world looks like from inside the mind of a mentally handicapped but unusually sensitive, observant, and decent man.
— Alison Lurie
In the clear-as-a-tinkling-bell voice of Todd Aaron, Gottlieb reveals how certain events and experiences cause this fiftysomething man with autism to suddenly go into a post-post-post-adolescent rebellion…. But in the way of all things happening for a reason, Gottlieb’s marvelous novel has happened so that readers may be in awe of all the universe’s creations.
— Donna Chavez
A fast read, and the plot is never less than captivating. . . . Gottlieb’s attention to crafting Todd’s internal monologue is something to behold.