The Spark - Kristine Barnett

The Spark

By Kristine Barnett

  • Release Date: 2013-04-09
  • Genre: Biographies & Memoirs
Score: 5
From 98 Ratings


Kristine Barnett’s son Jacob has an IQ higher than Einstein’s, a photographic memory, and he taught himself calculus in two weeks. At nine he started working on an original theory in astrophysics that experts believe may someday put him in line for a Nobel Prize, and at age twelve he became a paid researcher in quantum physics. But the story of Kristine’s journey with Jake is all the more remarkable because his extraordinary mind was almost lost to autism. At age two, when Jake was diagnosed, Kristine was told he might never be able to tie his own shoes.
The Spark is a remarkable memoir of mother and son. Surrounded by “experts” at home and in special ed who tried to focus on Jake’s most basic skills and curtail his distracting interests—moving shadows on the wall, stars, plaid patterns on sofa fabric—Jake made no progress, withdrew more and more into his own world, and eventually stopped talking completely. Kristine knew in her heart that she had to make a change. Against the advice of her husband, Michael, and the developmental specialists, Kristine followed her instincts, pulled Jake out of special ed, and began preparing him for mainstream kindergarten on her own.
Relying on the insights she developed at the daycare center she runs out of the garage in her home, Kristine resolved to follow Jacob’s “spark”—his passionate interests. Why concentrate on what he couldn’t do? Why not focus on what he could?  This basic philosophy, along with her belief in the power of ordinary childhood experiences (softball, picnics, s’mores around the campfire) and the importance of play, helped Kristine overcome huge odds.
The Barnetts were not wealthy people, and in addition to financial hardship, Kristine herself faced serious health issues. But through hard work and determination on behalf of Jake and his two younger brothers, as well as an undying faith in their community, friends, and family, Kristine and Michael prevailed. The results were beyond anything anyone could have imagined.
Dramatic, inspiring, and transformative, The Spark is about the power of love and courage in the face of overwhelming obstacles, and the dazzling possibilities that can occur when we learn how to tap the true potential that lies within every child, and in all of us.

Praise for The Spark
“[An] amazing memoir . . . compulsive reading.”The Washington Post
The Spark is about the transformative power of unconditional love. If you have a child who’s ‘different’—and who doesn’t?—you won’t be able to put it down.”—Sylvia Nasar, author of A Beautiful Mind
“Love, illness, faith, tragedy and triumph—it’s all here. . . . Jake Barnett’s story contains wisdom for every parent.”Newsday
“This eloquent memoir about an extraordinary boy and a resilient and remarkable mother will be of interest to every parent and/or educator hoping to nurture a child’s authentic ‘spark.’”—Publishers Weekly
“Compelling . . . Jake is unusual, but so is his superhuman mom.”—Booklist
The Spark describes in glowing terms the profound intensity with which a mother can love her child.”—Andrew Solomon, author of The Noonday Demon and Far from the Tree
“Every parent and teacher should read this fabulous book!”—Temple Grandin, author of Thinking in Pictures and co-author of The Autistic Brain

From the Hardcover edition.


  • An amazing INSPIRING book

    By 1 Banker
    I had trouble putting this book down. With a 20 year old grandson with severe autism compounded by other challenges, this was so fascinating to me. Many hard choices have had to be made by his parents through the years, some with better results than others, but always made after consideration for his best interest as well as their other children. Oh, how I wish there had been a “Kristine” in our town. It does make me wonder what a difference in his life it could have made to his life & ours for her examples & guidance. Thank you for showing the world that greatness can be found in the most unexpected places & people.
  • Jacob’s Place

    By Workaholic Mom
    I have recently been inter dyed to n what makes children ‘tick’. This book was eye opening and warm hearted for me. Children are precious minds God gave us to nurture. Why some excel and others don’t amazes me. Patience and listening will help me. Thank you.
  • from iraq

    By alikamil
    great& so exciting
  • Wow!

    By HWW Mom
    Awesome book! Gave me a spark of new ideas for my own autistic son!
  • Moving....

    By Andie_USA
    I loved it!
  • The Spark

    By Mimi's Mac
    Seemed to go on and on forever...blah, blah, blah...Mom must have been super woman for everything she accomplished especially after a stroke. I would not recommend it to anyone else to read.
  • Beautiful

    By iAss 6 plus
    What an amazing and inspiring story. I could not put this book down from the moment I started it. Their story made me laugh and cry and was deeply moving. Thank you to the author for sharing. As a parent, I feel this book has been a great gift of wisdom.
  • Amazing story

    By tbs2
    I would highly recommend this book to any one with an interest in good parenting or special needs. It will also appeal to anyone who needs some real world, heartwarming inspiration. It started slow but after a few chapters I was hooked. I hope I can find the "60 Minutes" story about Jake, the main character.
  • Inspiring

    By Nurul&Afif
    A wonderful book about a mother's love and a blessed child with a completely loving family. Stories of how love prevails through hardship and sorrow, and how maternal gut instinct with conviction reclaimed what was commonly decreed lost. As parents with similar challenges with our own child, it hits all the right spots and it helps tremendously for us to gain better perspective in dealing with our daily challenges. The things you powered through is so inspirational that it makes us embarrassed looking back at what we thought was a great effort so far. Thank you so much for sharing.