3 out of 4 stars
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The Voice of Silence opens with the lyrics of a famous song recorded by Simon and Garfunkel in 1964, “The Sound of Silence.” Written by Aaron Parker, who is autistic, this non-fiction title is a fascinating collection. There are reflections, quotes, definitions, poems, philosophical questions, and other stream-of-consciousness manifestations. Throughout most of the book, Parker uses the first person to convey his thoughts and feelings about the world as he experiences it. The author explores themes such as God, space, time, reality, faith, education, society, and politics. He does so with references to numerous luminaries and philosophers such as Aristotle, Confucius, Plato, Nietzsche, Kant, Voltaire, Bertrand Russel, Einstein, and Simone De Beauvoir.
I greatly enjoyed reading this unconventional book. I found it to be a brave and candid account of what it means to have a different take on life, and I commend the author for writing it. Parker creatively conveys his deepest personal issues and struggles, and they often have to do with autism. It was very interesting for me to get a glimpse at a mind that works differently, and this aspect was what I enjoyed the most. We get invited into Parker’s idiosyncratic world, and one can’t help but love this expressive journey and root for him. He comes across as a kind soul, and my heart goes out to him. I particularly liked the poems, especially one called “We are the Warriors.”
Additionally, I appreciated how the author raises awareness about mental health issues. Parker seems unafraid to approach complex subjects; he mentions Asperger Syndrome, savants, hypomania, bipolar disorder, depression, and insomnia. I admired how he managed to examine these difficult topics with dashes of hope, tenderness, and humor.
Speaking of negatives, Parker uses a fair share of profanity throughout the book. I believe that this use of language restricts the book’s potential audience, which could otherwise include children and teenagers. This aspect was what I disliked the most. I have a close friend who has an autistic teenager, but due to the use of profanity in the book, I cannot recommend it to them.
In short, autism is central to this unique and innovative work, and I rate it 3 out of 4 stars. I would give it the highest score if it didn’t include profanity. Still, The Voice of Silence is a heartwarming account written by an author who celebrates humanity and says: “I am just a man.” I recommend it to readers who enjoy poetry. It will surely appeal to those who are interested in autism or mental health issues.
The Voice of Silence
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