The Spark

The Spark

A Mother's Story of Nurturing Genius

Book - 2013
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Kristine Barnett's son Jacob has an IQ higher than Einstein's, a photographic memory, and he taught himself calculus in two weeks. At nine he started working on an original theory in astrophysics that experts believe may someday put him in line for a Nobel Prize, and at age twelve he became a paid researcher in quantum physics. But the story of Kristine's journey with Jake is all the more remarkable because his extraordinary mind was almost lost to autism. At age two, when Jake was diagnosed, Kristine was told he might never be able to tie his own shoes.
 
The Spark is a remarkable memoir of mother and son. Surrounded by "experts" at home and in special ed who tried to focus on Jake's most basic skills and curtail his distracting interests--moving shadows on the wall, stars, plaid patterns on sofa fabric--Jake made no progress, withdrew more and more into his own world, and eventually stopped talking completely. Kristine knew in her heart that she had to make a change. Against the advice of her husband, Michael, and the developmental specialists, Kristine followed her instincts, pulled Jake out of special ed, and began preparing him for mainstream kindergarten on her own.
 
Relying on the insights she developed at the daycare center she runs out of the garage in her home, Kristine resolved to follow Jacob's "spark"--his passionate interests. Why concentrate on what he couldn't do? Why not focus on what he could?  This basic philosophy, along with her belief in the power of ordinary childhood experiences (softball, picnics, s'mores around the campfire) and the importance of play, helped Kristine overcome huge odds.
 
The Barnetts were not wealthy people, and in addition to financial hardship, Kristine herself faced serious health issues. But through hard work and determination on behalf of Jake and his two younger brothers, as well as an undying faith in their community, friends, and family, Kristine and Michael prevailed. The results were beyond anything anyone could have imagined.
 
Dramatic, inspiring, and transformative, The Spark is about the power of love and courage in the face of overwhelming obstacles, and the dazzling possibilities that can occur when we learn how to tap the true potential that lies within every child, and in all of us.

Praise for The Spark
 
"[An] amazing memoir . . . compulsive reading." -- The Washington Post
 
" The Spark is about the transformative power of unconditional love. If you have a child who's 'different'--and who doesn't?--you won't be able to put it down." --Sylvia Nasar, author of A Beautiful Mind
 
"Love, illness, faith, tragedy and triumph--it's all here. . . . Jake Barnett's story contains wisdom for every parent." -- Newsday
 
"This eloquent memoir about an extraordinary boy and a resilient and remarkable mother will be of interest to every parent and/or educator hoping to nurture a child's authentic 'spark.'" --Publishers Weekly
 
"Compelling . . . Jake is unusual, but so is his superhuman mom." --Booklist
 
" The Spark describes in glowing terms the profound intensity with which a mother can love her child." --Andrew Solomon, author of The Noonday Demon and Far from the Tree
 
"Every parent and teacher should read this fabulous book!" --Temple Grandin, author of Thinking in Pictures and co-author of The Autistic Brain
Publisher: Toronto : Random House Canada, c2013.
ISBN: 9780812993370
9780307362797
0307362795
Branch Call Number: 618.9285882 BARNE
Characteristics: x, 250 p. : ill.

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odie3591
Feb 26, 2016

I could not put this book down. It is so awesome to see good in the world.

c
chanters
Oct 11, 2015

Would have loved to learn more about Jake and less about his mom (the author). Her feeble attempt at presenting herself as humble was a fail. She presents herself as a super human who can achieve things no one else can. Educators and parents can't hold a candle to her, apparently.

m
mprimom
Sep 09, 2014

Absolutely one of the best books I've read! I strongly recommend it for everyone. - I wish I had read this book years back when the girls were young.

k
kanbantus
Apr 09, 2014

I absolutely loved this book. It made me cry couple of times, so I had to stop reading and get a tissue, and I also bursted into uncontrollable laugh couple of times too so my husband came to check from the other room if I was not choking :) Real eye-opener, made me rethink what I should and should not let my toddler girl do, now I let her do things that I previously did not, because I did not want to get her clothes dirty or room too messy... Very interesting read, I consider buying my own copy to store it on my bookshelf so I could reread it again and again. What a passionate mother little Jake has!

e
ebutters
Mar 29, 2014

A definite read for parents and teachers and people who want to be parents one day. It is inspiring and gives you hope and comfort in case you ever face this situation. It was a bit repetitive at times (her reasons for her decisions to help others). Overall, a great read! A truly amazing kid.

Barcode55 Jan 10, 2014

I'll read this book again and again, not only for the amazing true story, but for the information about how our brains work. Absolutely one of the best books I've read! I strongly recommend it for everyone.

w
writermala
Oct 03, 2013

The Spark is a book, which like Jake, is off the ratings chart for me. I was so moved that I literally couldn't put it down till I finished it. This is the true story of Kristine Burnett fighting the system and finding the spark that makes her Autistic son Jacob tick. This spark is in fact a blazing fire and by focusing on what Jake CAN do instead of what he CANNOT Kris brings Jake out of his shell. The story is not just about Jake's phenomenal achievements; it is about a mother's love. A love which nurtures her child and let's him, and others like him, be a child - not totally involved in therapy. Kristin says, she wrote this book to share her son with the world. I for one am really thankful that she did. The world is a better place because of this book.

l
lucky38
Sep 29, 2013

What an interesting book! A great story of a mother who would not give up on her son. Of course, the seed of genius had to be there all along, but the mom felt her son had potential and she pursued that.
a truly good read.

k
KatrinaP
Sep 13, 2013

Interesting non fiction book documenting a mother's journey with her autistic son Jake. Initially told that he would never read, she takes him out of special education and does her own thing with him, which results in her running a variety of programmes for local autistic kids from her garage. Jake is profoundly gifted and his development from a child who wouldn't speak to one that is internationally recognised as a researcher (at 15!!!!) was fascinating. However, his mother Kris isn't a writer and it shows. If you can get past this and you're interested in this area, it's an interesting perspective.

o
ownedbydoxies
Jul 25, 2013

Amazing. What an interesting and well-written book! I won't spoil it by giving too much of it away, but do read it and after you've read it, check out youtube and the interview the little boy, Jake, did with 60 Minutes.

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kanbantus
Apr 09, 2014

kanbantus thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over

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