My Three Sons

Today is the official day FOLLOWING EZRA is published. It’s been a long time in coming, and I’m grateful to many people for helping along the way. Today, I’d like to focus on two of them: Ezra’s brothers.

I’ve always thought that one of Ezra’s greatest blessings is that he’s the middle of three brothers.  As it happens, I’m the middle of three brothers myself, and—as any middle child will tell you—it didn’t always feel like a blessing. But now I’m very close to both of my brothers. (Just in the last 24 hours they’ve both—without being asked—offered tremendous help with my efforts to spread the word about my book.)

A lot of people have asked me what our sons Ami and Noam think about FOLLOWING EZRA. It’s a great question. If, when I was 17 years old, my dad had written a book about one of my brothers—well, first of all, I would have asked my dad where he found the time to do all that writing when he was supposed to be running a conveyor-belt business. But after I got over the initial shock, I might have had mixed feelings about the project. I might have asked (or wondered silently): When are you going to write a book about me?

Here are a few things you should know about Ezra’s brothers: Ami is 17. He’s a remarkable young man—funny, confident, well spoken, a political activist who knows more about the debt ceiling debate than I do. He has been comfortable speaking with adults of all kinds since he was a very young child (a quality I’m still trying to attain myself). Noam is 13. He’s a talented pianist who can sit down and play virtually any song on the first attempt, working it out in his head before his fingers touch the keys. (I’ll never understand how he can do that.) He is also a virtuoso origami folder, able to create models of insects and animals with upwards of 100 steps from memory, and equally able to teach young children simpler origami figures with patience and joy. People who know him understand that Noam can be the sweetest and kindest person you will meet.

Did I mention that they’re both student council presidents of their schools? At the same time?

One reason Ezra has come so far in life is that his brothers don’t treat him like a “special needs child.” They treat him like a brother. If he eats a few too many cookies, they call him on it. If his mentioning a few dozen times in a row that Pixar has new movie called Brave coming out next year gets a bit annoying, they tell him. But out in the world—at camp, among friends, on the rough streets of West Los Angeles—they protect him, they explain him, and they’re proud of him.

Last night, on the eve of publication, we sat around our dinner table and I thanked the boys for helping me to get to this day—for their patience, for their support, for their proofreading and editing. And I told them that the book isn’t just about Ezra, it’s about what it means to be part of a family, with all the complex, messy, and joyful stuff that comes with that. They listened, and nodded with sincerity.

And then they asked: “When are you going to write books about us?”

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One Comment

  1. Posted September 9, 2011 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

    This post is fantastic! I have three sons also. My middle son has autism also. And I say to ALL my sons that the best present I ever gave them was their brothers. And I mean it. My son with autism is the most gentle, precious and intelligent little boy. I have learnt so much by allowing him to be my teacher in life. I have certainly found many times challenging, but we have found a way that allows him to thrive. And it involved travelling into his world first, forming a solid relationship in his world and then, when he’s interested, encouraging him to enjoy our world too. I look forward to reading your book. Thanks for sharing your story. Nichola

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