Spark, The

Barnett, Kristine

  13 Reviews

As with all mothers, Kristine Barnett wanted her son to reach his full potential, but in Jake's case, with an early diagnosis of autism, it looked to be a limited potential. Trusting her own instincts instead of the advice of the experts, Kristine undertook to nurture Jake's 'spark', focusing on what he could do instead of what he could not do, with extraordinary results. Teaching himself calculus in two weeks and at age twelve becoming a paid researcher in quantum physics, Jake's trajectory is impressive. So too are the hope and care Kristine has been able to give other families with children with special needs when she established a pre-school that espouses the very same approach.

This book is a truly inspirational page-turner that demonstrates the power of love to overcome adversity, and recognises that all children, whatever their circumstances, have untapped potential. [Small font]

Comments from Groups

A compelling read.. Lower Hutt 8

Inspiring.. Amazing. Auckland 078

A great book, would highly recommend this one. Provoked some great discussion from everyone. Kaukapakapa 2

Overall a fantastic first book for our group. Most members said it wasn't a book they themselves would have chosen, but all were really happy to have read it, and all of us have taken positive ideas from the book and implanted them into our family lives. Auckland 319



AUCK 412
Some were very lack-lustre about this book but the rest were very impressed. All agreed that the mother was wonderful in the way she went to such extreme measures to give Jake as normal an upbringing as possible under the circumstances. It certainly highlighted the difficulties that families face with special needs children. A great read.
Overall this book was well received by the group. Most found it inspirational and the journey of Jake amazing.
This divided our group. A couple of members found it inspirational; others were skeptical and questioned Jake's initial diagnosis. One (teacher) thought it was too much like being at work and pleaded for escapist fiction at the end of her daily stint in the classroom.
ROTO 010
An inspiring, easily read book and a valuable insight into autism. Very much enjoyed by three of our group in particular. Others of us noted the lack of mention of Jake's siblings and wondered about their childhoods. Some found it difficult to credit the sheer amount of energy Kristine possessed and what she accomplished.
AUCK 006
What an amazing book. We, as a group, were filled with admiration for the author; the amount of energy she expended on her family was incredible. I think we were almost more impressed by her actions than we were with Jake. We felt that if more autism 'experts' listened to what the child can do rather than what they were expected to do, more autistic children (although still in need of support) would be able to function better in society. It is an easy read, sometimes bringing us to tears and other times to laughter...
MOSG 004
An excellent read, thought provoking and inspirational. Shows 'autism' in a positive light. What an amazing child - he will no doubt go on to do great things.
Good discussion as we have teachers in our group. NZ educational philosophy is primarily based on developing learning by building on a child's strengths, so we found that aspect interesting - America more focused on achieving milestones. Kristine Barnett was undoubtedly a supermum. We felt exhausted by her seemingly manic and heroic drive to provide an exceptional environment to foster Jake's development. A heart warming story of love, devotion, endeavour and commitment.
An interesting read, but the group felt that perhaps it was a bit too sugar-coated. It seems impossible that the author could have achieved such results - contending with 2 difficult children, a stroke, a pre school and a centre for autistic children. Having said that, it was a great insight into autism and the struggle with the education system.
One of the most inspiring books we have read.
AUCK 381
We enjoyed this book from many different perspectives - parenting, family illness, financial hardship and the pressure on relationships from chaotic lives. The themes were very easy to relate to, and we all felt connected to the writing style. The content didn't generate a hugely engaging discussion unfortunately, but all of us enjoyed the book and were gripped by the story.
Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the book. We were all very much more informed about autism, and now realise how easy it is to write off children who are 'different' and appear 'slow' - we learnt that following and developing their interests and strengths, and being positive, gets results.
We enjoyed the book, yet at times we spoke of being overwhelmed by all the adversities this family has had to deal with during the lives of their three boys. It seems now with their move to Canada they are settling down to a peaceful country life style. We especially liked the idea of teaching children what they can do, not to focus on what they can't do. Enlightening, encouraging and full of possibilities.
CHCH 449
We enjoyed this book to varying degrees. Most felt concerned about the author's need to be a rescuer putting her own health at risk. The book was as much about her as about Jake. Jake is an absolute exception to most autistic people. Many mums of Aspergers or autistic kids might read this book and feel guilty that they haven't been able to devote their lives to unlocking the key to their child's social and academic future.