Sunday, August 21, 2016


Ketchup is My Favorite Vegetable - say that out loud and I dare you not to smile.  On the cover, a photo of two cute boys who look so much alike they must be brothers.  One has his arm draped over his brother's shoulder and the younger boy is wearing (duh) a Heinz ketchup t-shirt.  And underneath the title, A Family Grows Up with Autism

The book sat on my desk for a few days.  I've known many families affected by autism or special needs children.  Maybe I should just check out the new Harry Potter book instead. 

No, I picked up Ketchup is My Favorite Vegetable and started to read.  And I couldn't put it down.  It's a beautiful book - yes, parts are painful, but Liane Kupferberg Carter writes with elegance, honesty, and humor.  I was amazed at the resilience of her family, their love and perseverance and most of all, Liane's autistic son Mickey, who you follow from birth to young adulthood.  By the end of Mickey's journey you want to shout, "Woo hoo!" 

Sometimes you feel sick when Mickey is bullied or takes a step back in his progress.  Or reading about Liane and her battles (such battles!) with school bureaucracies and finding proper therapies and therapists - she is a wonderful, fierce advocate - I kept thinking of her as Joan of Arc.  But she doesn't pretend to be saintly and that's another lovely thing about her memoir, the idea that life with an autistic child is sometimes overwhelmingly difficult and it's okay to admit that.  But then you take a deep breath and go on. 

One of the things I liked best about Ketchup is My Favorite Vegetable was learning how a family deals with an autistic child who ages out of schools and programs and therapies.  Then what?  What options are available to a young adult with autism?

I cried, but I also cheered.  And you will, too, when you read this book.  Woo hoo, Mickey.