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Bewilderment
Cover of Bewilderment
Bewilderment
A Novel
From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Overstory, a powerful new novel that asks an essential question: What are we doing to our children? They are our hope for the future, yet we seem to be leaving it up to them to figure out how we all survive.
I never believed the diagnoses the doctors settled on my son. When a condition gets three different names over as many decades, when it goes from non-existent to the country's most commonly diagnosed childhood disorder in one generation, when two different physicians want to prescribe three different medications, there's something wrong....
Theo Byrne is a promising young astrobiologist who has found a way to search for life on other planets dozens of light years away. He is also the widowed father of a most unusual nine-year-old. His son, Robin, is funny, loving, and filled with plans. He thinks and feels deeply, adores animals, and can spend hours painting elaborate pictures. He is also on the verge of being expelled from third grade for smashing his friend's face with a metal thermos.
What can a father do, when the only solution offered to his rare and troubled boy is to put him on psychoactive drugs? What can he say when his boy comes to him wanting an explanation for a world that is clearly in love with its own destruction? The only thing for it is to take the boy to other planets, even while fostering his son's desperate campaign to help save this one.
From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Overstory, a powerful new novel that asks an essential question: What are we doing to our children? They are our hope for the future, yet we seem to be leaving it up to them to figure out how we all survive.
I never believed the diagnoses the doctors settled on my son. When a condition gets three different names over as many decades, when it goes from non-existent to the country's most commonly diagnosed childhood disorder in one generation, when two different physicians want to prescribe three different medications, there's something wrong....
Theo Byrne is a promising young astrobiologist who has found a way to search for life on other planets dozens of light years away. He is also the widowed father of a most unusual nine-year-old. His son, Robin, is funny, loving, and filled with plans. He thinks and feels deeply, adores animals, and can spend hours painting elaborate pictures. He is also on the verge of being expelled from third grade for smashing his friend's face with a metal thermos.
What can a father do, when the only solution offered to his rare and troubled boy is to put him on psychoactive drugs? What can he say when his boy comes to him wanting an explanation for a world that is clearly in love with its own destruction? The only thing for it is to take the boy to other planets, even while fostering his son's desperate campaign to help save this one.
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Awards-
About the Author-
  • RICHARD POWERS is the author of twelve novels. His most recent, The Overstory, won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction and the 2020 American Academy of Arts and Letters' William Dean Howells Medal for the most distinguished American work of fiction published in the last five years, and was a finalist for the Booker Prize. The Overstory has been on the New York Times bestseller list for 63 weeks to date, with more than 1 million copies in print across all formats. Powers is also the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship and the National Book Award, among other accolades.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    July 26, 2021
    Pulitzer winner Powers (The Overstory) offers up a marvelous story of experimental neurotherapy and speculations about alien life. Astrophysicist Theo Byrne simulates worlds outside Earth’s solar system as part of lobbying efforts for a new spaceborne telescope. As a single parent in Madison, Wis., his work takes a back seat—his wife, Aly, mother of their nine-year-old, Robin, died two years earlier. Theo shares his fictional descriptions of life on exoplanets with Robin in the form of bedtime stories, and they bond over a Trumpian administration’s hostility to scientific research. Theo allows Robin to protest neglect of endangered species at the state capitol, despite Robin’s volatile behavior. He’s been diagnosed with Asperger’s, OCD, and ADHD, and Theo refuses to give him psychoactive medication (“Life is something we need to stop correcting,” goes Theo’s new “crackpot theory”). More cutting-edge is the neurofeedback program run by an old friend of Aly’s, who trains Robin to model his emotions from a record saved of Aly’s brain activity. It works, for a while—the tragic, bittersweet plot has some parallels to Flowers to Algernon. The planetary descriptions grow a bit repetitive and don’t gain narrative traction, but in the end, Powers transforms the wrenching story into something sublime. Though it’s not his masterpiece, it shows the work of a master.

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Bewilderment
Bewilderment
A Novel
Richard Powers
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