Harmony; Carolyn Parkhurst
Pamela Dorman Books - 2016
Harmony is a story of marriage, parenting and the guilt felt when things don't turn out as planned.
The story begins with the Hammond family: Alexandra (mom), Josh (dad) and daughters Iris, age 11, and Tilly, age 13. The family leaves their home in Washington, DC behind to live in an off the grid community called, Camp Harmony in New Hampshire. The camp's leader, Scott Bean, is a self-proclaimed, cultish parenting expert who professes to help families who are struggling.
Tilly Hammond falls somewhere within the autism spectrum with no specific diagnosis. She has been expelled from several schools for inappropriate behavior. She's prone to meltdowns, licks floors and has frequent vulgar and violent outbursts. For the Hammonds, Camp Harmony seems to be their last result for keeping their family together. But just who is Scott Bean and to what lengths will he go to change the behaviors of Tilly and other challenging children who have come to the camp?
The story told from the POV's of Iris and Alexandra where we learn about family life before Camp Harmony and life at Camp Harmony. Peppered throughout are excepts to show how Tilly reacts to various situations. Younger sister Iris is a wonderful narrator and Alexandra truly believes that Scott Bean may just be their last chance as others have suggested institutionalizing Tilly.
The author does a great job capturing the desperation of the parents. I did read that the author has an autistic son and her knowledge of the challenges shows. There is a sense on tension throughout, especially when Scott Bean becomes a bit unpredictable. The novel wasn't perfect and the epilogue seemed unrealistic and at times forced but, it was still an enjoyable read overall.