Marti Leimbach is the author of several novels, including the international bestseller Dying Young, which was made into a major motion picture starring Julia Roberts. Born in Washington, D.C., Leimbach attended the Creative Writing program at University of California, Irvine, and Harvard University. She currently lives in England and teaches at Oxford University's Creative Writing program.
For her fourth novel, Leimbach, best known for her debut, Dying Young, has written a satisfying story about a woman in crisis and a son with autism. While studying at Oxford, American-born Melanie meets and marries a man from a traditional upper-crust English family and settles in London. As the story opens, Melanie and husband Stephen have a creative and imaginative four-year-old daughter, Emily, and a son, Daniel, not quite three, who is a picky eater, walks on his toes, and doesn't talk yet. After making the rounds of specialists, Daniel is diagnosed as autistic, and his parents are advised to put him in a special school, a treatment acceptable to his father but not his mother. Stephen panics and goes back to an old girlfriend, who's more representative of the life he thinks he should have. Meanwhile, Melanie seeks out alternative treatments for Daniel, finding a regimen of specially prepared foods and play therapy that helps him make some major developmental gains. She also begins to rebel against the classic educational structure that's stifling her daughter's creativity and the upper-class life that is cramping her own style. Leimbach, herself the parent of an autistic child, does an excellent job of showing a mother fighting with every ounce of her being for what is right for her children and, ultimately, herself. A most satisfying read, this is recommended for all public libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 1/06.]-Debbie Bogenschutz, Cincinnati State Technical & Community Coll. Lib. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Leimbach (Dying Young) notes on the back of the galley that she has modeled her title character on her own autistic son; the result is moving, frequently funny and never mawkish. The novel is narrated by Melanie Marsh, an American woman living in England who seems to have it all: Stephen, a rich if somewhat starchy husband; Emily, a vivacious daughter; and an adorable son named Daniel. But after a normal infancy, Daniel is beginning to behave strangely-throwing tantrums, walking on his toes, still seeking his mother's breast and refusing to talk. As Melanie unravels, Stephen remains in denial, until the dreaded diagnosis of autism is delivered. The marriage falls apart, but Melanie does not. She embarks on a frustrating, heroic mission to get the best treatment for her son, eventually entrusting his care to Andy O'Connor, a behaviorist with a dubious reputation. But his unorthodox methods get results, and soon, a bit too predictably, a romance blossoms between Andy and Melanie. While the novel lacks the literary ambition of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Leimbach does succeed in making us care about Daniel and his progress. (Apr.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
"Gripping. . . . A tale of a mother's fierce devotion. . . . Leimbach has a gift for emotionally searing fiction leavened with humor." --People "Timely and uplifting." --The New York Times Book Review "Amazing. . . .[A book about] tangled relationships, compassionate moments, fear and joy . . . and along the way there are moments of grace. . . . Gives us reason to hope." --The Washington Post"Hard to put down. . . . Leimbach's strength is in creating characters who are human and fallible and become imbedded in your heart." --USA Today