Bewilderment by Richard Powers

Picked by: 
Katie

This powerful story is about an astrobiologist father, and his sensitive son, who are struggling to live in a world without their wife and mother, Alyssa.

Alyssa has been killed in an auto accident, and 9 year old Robin tries to keep her memories alive by asking his father, Theo, to recount events and play videos of her.  Alyssa was a passionate lawyer who fought for environmental issues.  Robin takes up her causes, and becomes obsessed with them.  Theo tries hard to balance his work life and parenting life, but Robin begins taking more and more of his time. Robin’s mental health declines to the point he is on the verge of getting kicked out of school, when Theo seeks the help of an old friend of Alyssa’s, who is a neurologist, who suggests for Robin  be a part of a new, experimental therapy.  Theo is willing to try anything to avoid medication for Robin, so he agrees to try the therapy.  The therapy has positive effects on Robin, but brings up other issues in the process.

The story is a beautiful portrayal of a father doing the best he can for his son. Theo takes his son on nature trips and tells Robin stories of his fictional depictions of outer space to calm him, and to create some happiness for him.  Bewilderment will inspire you to venture into nature for a hike, or at least a look at the stars.

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