Jakob

Anna Mitgutsch, Author, Waltraud A. Mitgutsch, Author, Deborah Schneider, Translator Houghton Mifflin Harcourt P $22.95 (261p) ISBN 978-0-15-145978-0
In this unrelievedly bleak tale, Austrian writer Mitgutsch ( Three Daughters ) writes about a mother's exclusive devotion to her autistic son. After diagnosing four-year-old Jakob, the psychiatrists suggest that his mother, Marta, is somehow to blame for his autism. Expensive schools do not help Jakob and his condition causes an increasing rift between his parents; Marta decides to leave her husband and move back to her hometown, where she will give all her attention to her son. Jakob improves enormously, but Marta's overwhelming sacrifice makes her bitter and resentful. Asked whether she misses having men in her life, she responds that ``life with Jakob is a love relationship.'' When the teenage boy falls in love with a neighbor's daughter, his odd behavior is no longer viewed with forbearance. Marta receives threatening phone calls and with her son must move again. Mitgutsch's intensely focused, claustrophobic portrayal is an impassioned plea for tolerance. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/30/1991
Release date: 10/01/1991
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