Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Journal of Best Practices

The Journal of Best Practices: A Memoir of Marriage, Asperger Syndrome, and One Man's Quest to Be a Better HusbandThe Journal of Best Practices by David Finch
Source: I received a free copy of this book via a FirstReads giveaway on Goodreads for an honest review.
My rating5 of 5 stars

I first heard about this book from an article in Oprah Magazine. To be honest, I thought it sounded interesting, but I didn't really think I would go out and buy it. Borrow it from the library maybe, but not buy it. A short while later, I happened to notice it was being offered as a  and thought, why not enter?  Before I knew it, I got an email telling me I was one of the winners and would be receiving a free copy!

After finishing a most disappointing novel, I picked up this memoir and once I started it, I could not put it down. I literally flew through this book. Before I get started on the content of the book, I need to say that David Finch is an amazingly talented writer. His work is easy and enjoyable to read and he suffused the entire thing with a wonderful sense of humor. (Also with a *bit* of choice language - that type of thing does not phase me, but if it bothers you, you have been forewarned.)

Before reading this book, I had a general understanding about what Asperger's Syndrome is, but I had never heard a first-hand account of what life is like for a person with the disorder.  In his memoir, David shares not only how his life in general has been affected by Asperger's, but mainly focuses on how it has affected his marriage.

Earlier in life, David and his wife Kristen started off as best friends and their relationship progressed from there. Once they got married and moved in together, things started to get much more difficult for them.  Realizing they were not happy with the way things were between them and with David only recently diagnosed, he sets out to improve himself and his marriage. He comes to realize he has to learn and practice certain skills that come naturally to "neuro-typicals."  In order to do this, he starts his "Journal of Best Practices," a collection of rules and hard-won insights he uses as a tool to help him improve some of his more difficult behaviors.

I don't mean to diminish in any way the difficulties David faces in his everyday life; however, I could not help but think on occasion, "typical man!" So many of the things David is working on are things most men could use some improvement on. What wife doesn't want her husband to be a better listener? To let her vent her frustrations without jumping in with a logical solution to the problem? To take initiative around the house with chores, etc? David certainly has many more obstacles in his way and other additional issues he must face, but many of the problems specific to his marriage are not so different from the problems any other couple might face.

After finishing this book, what I was struck by the most and what will stay with me for a long time to come, is the love this man and his wife share. He may have trouble showing it and they may face many more challenges than the average couple, but the love they have for each other is so real and so touching. David is often extremely hard on himself and wishes he could be more "perfect" for Kristen because that is what he believes she deserves. But let me tell you, if love were "graded" for effort and a desire for one's partner to be happy, David would get an A++

Bottom line? Read this book. Now. I challenge you to not be moved and touched by it. Read any of the passages where David relays stories of the crazy things his kids have done or said and I challenge you not to dissolve into hysterics. Any other book David may write in the future will definitely make it onto my To-Buy List. On release day.

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