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Pages: 12
Goes Well With: Cheerios

"Shiloh" is a song sung by Neil Diamond, where a young child dreams and always ends up alone. What a perfect title for a story where a grown-up child finds fulfillment and love.

Holly is autistic, and, from the very first page of Shilo, the author places her readers firmly in Hollyís well-ordered world. With every movement and moment carefully measured, Holly gets up, gets dressed, eats Cheerios, and feeds her dog. The only hole in her perfectly-balanced life is the uncertainty over whether sheíll dare to speak to Hal.

We learn that Hollyís had conversation lessons, and we wonder if she can imagine how the rest of us struggle sometimes for words. She may be different, but sheís also the same, and the reader is very quickly caught up in her longing. (Eat those Cheerios.)

When Holly goes to church, as she always does on Sunday, and heads for her familiar pew, circumstances conspire to push her into the unknown. The reader begs her not to run away, and a simple gesture, undoubtedly also a learned response, leads to so much more. Itís a delight to see conversation beginning to bloom, with love as its flower. And if you donít like Cheerios, go to the local diner for a hamburger and milk shake. Look for Holly and Hal and cheer for them.

Kathie Harrington has a grown up autistic son, and I have a rapidly growing up autistic nephew. Iíve often wondered what the future might hold for him, and though Shilo may not answer my questions, it does fill me with hope. Itís a beautiful story, intriguing in its depiction of a very different soul, inspiring in its conclusion, and truly a delight to read.

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