With the Light: Raising an Autistic Child Vol. #02 - Mania.com

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  • Art Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Released By: Yen Press
  • MSRP: 14.99
  • Pages: 528
  • ISBN: 978-0-7595-2359-2
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left
  • Series: With the Light

With the Light: Raising an Autistic Child Vol. #02

By Sakura Eries     April 18, 2008
Release Date: March 31, 2008

With the Light: Raising an Autistic Child Vol.#02
© Yen Press

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Keiko Tobe
Translated by:Satsuki Yamashita
Adapted by:N/A

What They Say
Sachiko and Masato Azuma have overcome numerous obstacles in dealing with their firstborn son Hikaru's autism. Having saved their marriage from ending in ruins, the young couple has welcomed a healthy baby girl, Kanon, into their tight-knit family.

As Hikaru moves into fourth grade, Sachiko encounters a new student, Miyu, whose mother has completely given up on her daughter's life and her own. With the help of Hikaru's beloved teacher, Aoki-sensei, Sachiko aims to bring hope back to Miyu's family. But when Aoki-sensei transfers to a different school and Hikaru's special education class is thrown into upheaval by yet another tragedy, can Sachiko continue to hold on to her own hope for her son's future?

The Review
The Azuma family has been blessed to have had the support of specialists, teachers, and even other students willing to include Hikaru in their community. Not all children with autism are so fortunate though. When Hikaru enters the fourth grade, a new student, Miyu, joins Aoki-sensei's special ed class. But unlike Hikaru, her autism has never been addressed, and Miyu's own mother has completely given up on her. However, Aoki-sensei begins reaching out to Miyu in a way that she can understand, and Sachiko shares her own experiences with Miyu's harried mother to give her reason to hope for her daughter's future.

Meanwhile, Hikaru's growing and venturing further to explore the world around him. Some of the results are positive as he starts voluntarily interacting with more people. However, other times he unwittingly breaks the rules of society. Tension with unsympathetic strangers often results, leading to all sorts of problems for his parents. However, the Azumas are able to rely on one another and the supportive people around them to get through the worst of times. But when Aoki-sensei transfers and a teacher ignorant to the needs of the special ed students takes over his class, how will Hikaru and his family manage?

The focus of Yen Press' first installment of With the Light was the Azuma family coming to understand autism and the need to relate to Hikaru differently than other children. As we move on to the second volume (encompassing Volumes 3 and 4 of the Japanese release), the story centers more upon making Hikaru understood to the community at large and Hikaru learning to communicate with people other than his parents and special ed teachers. The ways his teachers and family invent to teach him are both interesting and innovative. However, dealing with Hikaru's autism remains a strain on the family, and Kobe does a fine job in depicting Sachiko's impulse to run away from her home difficulties and the Azumas' panic when Hikaru goes missing.

Many new characters are introduced in this volume. Some of them are a significant addition to the story. For instance, Miyu and her mother are great reminders of how far Hikaru has progressed. However, others are only introduced for the purpose of social commentary before disappearing. For example, classmate Oki-kun gets the spotlight for approximately a chapter before dropping completely from the plot, much like the Filipinas in the previous volume. And then there is Gunji-sensei, whom I find perplexing. She becomes Aoki-sensei's replacement for completely selfish reasons, but even given the unusual circumstances at the time she takes over the special ed class, I have to wonder that the school district would allow her to do such a thing with no training. I'm unfamiliar with Japanese laws on the matter, but current legislation in the United States is certainly stringent about special ed requirements. However, the disruption caused by Gunji-sensei definitely emphasizes why educators need proper training.

Extras include table of contents; an explanation of cultural notes; five pages of translation notes; excerpts from the United Nations' "Convention on the Rights of Children"; a short essay about the life of a working adult with autism; a short essay written by a special education teacher; and ads for other books about autism published by the Hachette Book Group.


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