Harmony: A Novel (Hardcover)

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How does autism affect an individual, a marriage, a family, siblings? What decisions are made in the search for hope, for normalcy? What means would you go to in order to be understood, supported, allow your child to “fit in?”

This is the story of Tilly, an adolescent who has been diagnosed on the autism spectrum. It is also the story of Tilly’s family, who resorts to an unconventional family approach to support Tilly, when all hope appears to be gone.

This compelling story is told by Tilly’s mother, Alexandra and younger sister, Iris. These different perspectives give a glimpse into the many issues surrounding Autism, and its effects on the entire family structure

-Recommended by Virgie

— From August 2016 Staff Picks

How does autism affect an individual, a marriage, a family, siblings? What decisions are made in the search for hope and normalcy? What can you do to be understood and supported and to help your child “it in?

At the age of 8, Tilly Hammond is diagnosed on the autism spectrum. Though this label serves a purpose, it also oversimplifies the situation. By age 12, Tilly’s parents are told she can no longer be helped in her public school. Once she is removed from the special-education program, Tilly’s remaining options are grim: centers, residence programs, psychiatric wards. Thought the idea of homeschooling fills Alexandra, Tilly’s mother, with terror, she makes an attempt, but soon realizes homeschooling is not working for Tilly, either.

When all hope appears lost, Alexandra agrees to an unconventional and new approach — to join a group of families who have given up their worldly possessions to help run a camp organized by a man named Scott Bean. Bean claims to know what autistic kids and their families need, yet he is not a parent himself. Though this is a risky venture for the family, they feel they need to take action, somehow.

This compelling story is told by Alexandra and Tilly’s younger sister, Iris. These different perspectives offer a glimpse into the many issues surrounding autism and its effects on the entire family structure.

— From Book reviews: Novels take fictional look at family life


"[A] provocative page-turner." People

“In Parkhurst’s deft treatment, Harmony becomes a story of our time. . . Parkhurst cements herself as a writer capable of astonishing humanity and exquisite prose.” Washington Post

“Gorgeously written and patently original.” —Jodi Picoult, New York Times bestselling author of Leaving Time

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Dogs of Babel, a taut, emotionally wrenching story of how a seemingly "normal" family could become desperate enough to leave everything behind and move to a "family camp" in New Hampshire--a life-changing experience that alters them forever.

How far will a mother go to save her family? The Hammond family is living in DC, where everything seems to be going just fine, until it becomes clear that the oldest daughter, Tilly, is developing abnormally--a mix of off-the-charts genius and social incompetence. Once Tilly--whose condition is deemed undiagnosable--is kicked out of the last school in the area, her mother Alexandra is out of ideas.

The family turns to Camp Harmony and the wisdom of child behavior guru Scott Bean for a solution. But what they discover in the woods of New Hampshire will push them to the very limit. Told from the alternating perspectives of both Alexandra and her younger daughter Iris (the book's Nick Carraway), this is a unputdownable story about the strength of love, the bonds of family, and how you survive the unthinkable.

About the Author

Carolyn Parkhurst is the New York Times bestselling author of the novels The Dogs of Babel, Lost and Found and The Nobodies Album.  She lives in Washington, DC with her husband and two children.

Praise For…

"This is a fascinating novel, at once challenging and compassionate, thrilling and thoughtful. It asks tough questions about what happens to people who don’t fit predetermined patterns, and what it means to be normal." —The Guardian

“Gorgeously written and patently original, Harmony takes us intimately into the lives of families with children who are not neurotypical — from the complex perspectives of the parent, the sibling, and the child herself.  Anyone who has ever encountered a child on the spectrum will come away with a new understanding and empathy after reading this novel.” —Jodi Picoult, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Leaving Time

“Parkhurst is a sincere and crafty writer. . . Harmony [is] a moving and compassionate literary dive straight into the heart of a frantic parent. . . shatteringly immediate. . . touchingly real.” The New York Times Book Review

“Splendid. . .  [Parkhurst] truly excels at bringing Alexandra and Iris to life, her terrific prose matched by compassion and a sense of humor. . . Parkhurst has always been an engaging and thoughtful writer, but the beautifully written Harmony is her best work, a haunting, creepy but ultimately moving story of love and family.” –The Miami Herald

“Every child has the potential to break a parent's heart.  In this gripping, timely novel, Carolyn Parkhurst follows the Hammond family as they give up everything to build a community that will allow both their daughters to thrive, an experiment that tests their resilienceand ultimately reveals the healing power of love.” —Kim Edwards, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Memory Keeper’s Daughter  
“Carolyn Parkhurst has composed the perfect blend of humor, suspense, and compassion in this fascinating tale of a family taking a crazy risk to save themselves. I read it in one giant gulpHarmony is absolutely riveting.” —Jami Attenberg, New York Times bestselling author of The Middlesteins and Saint Mazie

“Quite simply stunning. In this page-turning novel about one small family, Carolyn Parkhurst explores the complicated business of "normal," and the distances parents will go in search of what their children need. Compelling, thought-provoking, surprising, heartbreaking and ultimately uplifting, Harmony is a novel that will change the way you think.” —Meg Waite Clayton, New York Times bestselling author of The Wednesday Sisters
“In Harmony, the fiercely talented Carolyn Parkhurst fuses compelling social drama with riveting storytelling. Without an ounce of sugarcoating, the author leads readers into Camp Harmony—transfixing them until the startling conclusion.” —Randy Susan Meyers, author of Accidents of Marriage
“Wildly ambitious and eerily unsettling, this is a novel that burns with love, wisdom and rare grace. I loved this book.” —Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of Is This Tomorrow and Pictures of You

“This honest, heartbreakingly funny novel is the story of a family with a difficult child. Though we know from the start that something dark and dramatic will happen, how Parkhurst creates a novel of deep compassion is remarkable.  I read Harmony in one sitting."  --Susan Richards Shreve, author of You are the Love of my Life
“Fast-paced and heartfelt, Harmony asks the questions: What’s it worth to be normal? And, is being not-so-normal such a bad thing? I will follow Carolyn Parkhurst anywhere.” —Helen Ellis, New York Times bestselling author of American Housewife

"[A] heartfelt novel." —O Magazine, "10 Titles to Pick Up Now"

“Propulsive. . . Everything from the parents’ desperation to the camp’s creepy vibe feels vividly real, and this provocative page-turner also invites important, broader conversations about autism.”—People

“In Parkhurst’s deft treatment, Harmony becomes a story of our time, a compassionate treatise on how society judges parents, how parents judge themselves and how desperation sometimes causes otherwise rational people to choose irrational lives. . . Parkhurst cements herself as a writer capable of astonishing humanity and exquisite prose, someone whose wisdom parents and their judges should heed.”  --Washington Post

“A fleet page-turner. . . a compelling, seductive narrative. . . unusual and refreshing in its approach to its central mystery.”—NPR.org

“Darkly funny and suspenseful, with a palpable sense of dread that propels readers toward anticipatory horror. Parkhurst draws the Hammond family with depth and sensitivity. . . . [a] sensational exploration of what it means to be a family with a special needs child.USA Today

"Nothing short of fantastic." --Refinery29

“An unusual chiller. . . a drama [about] a family of four that's been pushed to the brink. . . ” --Good Housekeeping

“A masterpiece of slow-burning tension. . . Readers will be torn between a desire to pause to admire a golden paragraph and the compulsion to hasten on to find out what happens next. . .  [A] sumptuously written, eminently compelling novel about a family and its desperation.”The AV Club

“From the first sentences of this unusual and compelling novel. . . pages turn with the momentum of an emotional thriller. . . The characters go straight to your heart. Brilliant, funny, and beautiful monologues that show how deeply Parkhurst understands what she’s writing about. Suspenseful, moving, and full of inspiration and insight about parenting a child with autism.” –Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Parkhurst’s latest explores family bonds, modern-day parenting, and the the foundations of cult-like groups, all with nuance and a liberal dose of dark humor. . . Parkhurst’s memorable tale features a complex cast of characters and a series of conundrums with no easy answers. Book-discussion groups will be particularly interested in the tale’s numerous deftly explored gray areas.” –Publishers Weekly

“Alternately heartbreaking and hopeful, the novel beautifully sums up the love between parents and children.” —PureWow
Product Details
ISBN: 9780399562600
ISBN-10: 0399562605
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books
Publication Date: August 2nd, 2016
Pages: 288
Language: English