Friday, March 12, 2010

The Horse Boy

The day before yesterday I finished listening to an audio book that captured my attention fully for the week and a half or so of afternoon commutes that it took to work my way through it's contents.

The book?  "The Horse Boy: A Father's Quest to Heal His Son" by Rupert Isaacson.

The Chapters website offers this synopsis of the book: "When his son Rowan was diagnosed with autism, Rupert Isaacson was devastated, afraid he might never be able to communicate with  his child. But when Isaacson, a lifelong horseman, rode their neighbor''s horse with Rowan, Rowan improved immeasurably. He was struck with a crazy idea: why not take Rowan to Mongolia, the one place in the world where horses and shamanic healing intersected?

THE HORSE BOY is the dramatic and heartwarming story of that impossible adventure. In Mongolia, the family found undreamed of landscapes and people, unbearable setbacks, and advances beyond their wildest dreams. This is a deeply moving, truly one-of-a-kind story--of a family willing to go to the ends of the earth to help their son, and of a boy learning to connect with the world for the first time."
I found the book fascinating and just a bit disturbing.  Mental health, of course is a topic I have long been intrigued by, as is healing, and I love horses, though rarely do I get the chance to ride or be around them.  The idea of travel and pilgrimage is also close to my heart, and this book combined all of those elements.
However, I do admit that I find myself somewhat disturbed in my world-view, as one deeply sensitive to spiritual things, when I pause to consider the healing that Isaacson's son found as a result of the Shamanic ceremonies.  I've believed for a number of years now that healing is possible through an intervention of the supernatural, but had never really paused to consider healing as a result of spiritual forces that I, as a Christian, would consider to be "dark" or "evil."
There were times, too, over the course of listening to this book, that, given my great sensitivity to the spiritual realm, I seriously considered setting the book aside.  These moments came particularly during the descriptions of the various shamanic rituals.
I'm left struck again by the power of the spirit realm, and thinking about the ideas of evil masquerading as good.  The grey areas.
The book was compellingly written, and Isaacson reads well, with the added plus of a British accent tempered by years in other places. 
Wrapping up a review like this is the hardest part, especially when I am left with much to process, as in this case.  If I'm honest, I was most definitely rooting for Rowan to be healed, but I would have preferred other means than a series of shamanic rituals.  I sympathized with the struggles of Isaacson and his wife in parenting their severely autistic son.  And I was left with much to consider in terms of the impact of the spirit realm, and the grey areas the book stirred in the area of my thought on what is "good" and what is "evil".