The Horse Boy: A Memoir of Healing (Paperback)
May 2009 Indie Next List
“The Horse Boy tells the story of parents who travel to Mongolia with their autistic son in an effort to have him cured by shamans. The boy, Rowan, also has an affinity for animals, especially horses, and riding horses really seems to help him. A great read.”
— Stephanie Crowe, Page & Palette, Fairhope, AL
When his son Rowan was diagnosed with autism, Rupert Isaacson was devastated, afraid he might never be able to communicate with his child. But when Isaacson, a lifelong horseman, rode their neighbor's horse with Rowan, Rowan improved immeasurably. He was struck with a crazy idea: why not take Rowan to Mongolia, the one place in the world where horses and shamanic healing intersected?
The Horse Boy is the dramatic and heartwarming story of that impossible adventure. In Mongolia, the family found undreamed of landscapes and people, unbearable setbacks, and advances beyond their wildest dreams. This is a deeply moving, truly one-of-a-kind story -- of a family willing to go to the ends of the earth to help their son, and of a boy learning to connect with the world for the first time.
About the Author
Rupert Isaacson was born in London to a South African mother and a Zimbabwean father. Isaacson's first book, The Healing Land (Grove Press), was a 2004 New York Times Notable Book. He has travelled extensively in Africa, Asia, and North America for the British press and now lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife, Kristin, and their son, Rowan.
"Isaacson's astonishing memoir reveals how, inspired by these rare moments in the saddle, he began a quest through Mongolia to heal his five-year-old son.... Isaacson's journey to heal his son is just that, a healing, not a cure. But he wouldn't want it any other way. While the author's purpose was to draw Rowan out of his autism, he came to realize the overlooked gifts it entails. The Horse Boy will leave readers with a new appreciation for autism and the healing techniques of other cultures; like Rowan, they, too, will be changed forever."—Bookpage
"Everyone who is fascinated by the human-animal bond should read this totally engrossing book." —Dr. Temple Grandin, author of Animals in Translation
"Rupert Isaacson has conjured a non-fiction journey that reads like an epic novel. It is a book of endless amazements. The world of Mongolian shamans, the details of adventuresome travel, the mysterious world of autism--all are all amazing. Soon, you realize that the world of horses is mysterious, too--and, yes, amazing. By the time you are in the grip of this book, you'll see love, marriage, and parenthood as a realm of magic, profound power, and further amazements. The Horse Boy can change the way you see your life, and it's a terrifically good read at the same time. It feels like a classic."—Luis Alberto Urrea, author of The Hummingbird's Daughter and The Devil's Highway
"In this intense, polished account, the parents of an autistic boy trek to the Mongolian steppes to consult shamans in a last-ditch effort to alter his unraveling behavior.... Isaacson records heartening improvement in Rowan's firestormlike tantrums and incontinence, as he taps into an ancient, valuable form of spirit healing."—Publishers Weekly
"A colorful real-life adventure with inspiring results."—Good Housekeeping
"Isaacson charts his son's progress and regressions with an endearing tenderness.... Readers also follow the rare moments when Rowan expresses affection for his father, who is honest and humble throughout. And the author's chatty and self-deprecating storytelling adds a welcome buoyancy to a weighty experience. Meanwhile, Mongolia makes a fetching backdrop for this father/son love story.... Rooting for Rowan through all this... makes The Horse Boy an unexpected page turner."—The Cleveland Plain Dealer