Skip to main content
US Macmillan Tradebooks for Courses

The Boy in the Moon

A Father's Journey to Understand His Extraordinary Son

Ian Brown

St. Martin's Griffin

The Boy in the Moon Download image

ISBN10: 0312675410
ISBN13: 9780312675417


304 Pages


Request Desk Copy
Request Exam Copy


Sign up to receive information about new books, author events, and special offers.

Sign up now

A New York Times Top 10 Book of the Year

The Boy in the Moon is Ian Brown's emotionally complicated memoir of raising his son, Walker—one of only a few hundred people worldwide who live with an extremely rare genetic mutation.

Born with CFC (cardiofaciocutaneous) syndrome, Walker Brown is a mystery, as remote to his family as the moon. Unable to speak or swallow, compelled to hit himself, requiring surgeries, and round-the-clock care, he becomes the focus of his father's keen intelligence. An investigative journalist, Ian Brown traveled the globe, meeting with genetic scientists and neurologists as well as parents of similar children, seeking ways to reach—and perhaps cure—his son. As Brown becomes part of a community of families, he lets go of his self-blame and his desire to "fix" Walker, learning to accept the boy he loves, just as he is.


Praise for The Boy in the Moon

"[Brown] maintains the reporter's tone of cool inquiry, even as he delves into matters of the spirit, which gives his learning process the feel of a reasoned capitulation. Brown does not seem born to spiritual thoughts. When he expresses them, they sound all the more persuasive, as one feels the pull of his natural resistance."—Roger Rosenblatt, The New York Times

"The truth Brown learns from his severely disabled child is a rare one: The life that seems to destroy you is the one you long to embrace."—New York Times Book Review

"A stark, lovely memoir . . . fiercely plainspoken and lyrical"—The Boston Globe

"Crisp, observant and, occasionally, subversively funny . . . In the end, as in the beginning, Brown questions the value of a life like Walker's, 'lived in the twilight and often in pain.' He sometimes locates it in Walker himself. Another answer is this book."—The Plain Dealer (Cleveland)

"[An] intimate glimpse into the life of a family that cares around the clock for a mysterious, profoundly disabled child, that gets so close to the love and despair, and the complex questions the life of such a child raises . . . It is a beautiful book, heartfelt and profound, warm and wise."—Jane Bernstein, author of Loving Rachel and Rachel in the World

"Honest and deeply moving."—Tucson Citizen

"Eloquent as a love song, rich as the most generous, finely tempered philosophy, The Boy in the Moon asks some profound questions. What makes us human? What connects us to the most impaired members of our community? Who benefits more, the caretaker or the cared-for? The answer to all these questions lies in the wonderfully realized—poignant, dignified, funny—portrait of Walker, whom Ian Brown calls 'my teacher, my sweet, sweet, lost and broken boy.' It's hard to imagine a reader who won't also learn important things from Walker: This is a book that expands the mind and heart, and a joy to read."—Katherine Ashenburg, author of The Mourner's Dance and The Dirt on Clean

"If you read to get a sense of how other people experience being alive, The Boy in the Moon is the real thing: an intimate, profoundly eloquent, soul-wrenching memoir. In seeking to understand what goes on in his disabled son Walker's mind, Ian Brown allows us into his own. By turns lyrical, quirky, spare, unsparing, confessional, journalistic, irreverent, grim, angry, and sometimes hilarious, Brown writes out his thoughts, feelings, and experiences as father, son, husband, and ambivalent visitor to the international community of the 'disabled.' An extraordinary book, this is literature that opens up new emotional and psychological terrain."—Helen Epstein, author of Children of the Holocaust and Where She Came From

"A father's candid, heart-wrenching account of raising, loving and trying to connect with and gain insight into his severely disabled son . . . Much more than a moving journal of life with a disabled child; it is about Brown's quest to understand his son and his son's condition . . . An absorbing, revealing work of startling frankness."—Kirkus Reviews

"Brown presents a moving and deeply felt account of his life with his son Walker, who is one of fewer than 300 people in the world who were born with CFC, cardiofaciocutaneous syndrome . . . the book describes Brown's fascinating worldwide investigations into the various living situations offered to people with CFC as well as his visits with other families whose children have CFC."—Publishers Weekly

Reviews from Goodreads


Read an Excerpt

For the first eight years of Walker's life, every night is the same. The same routine of tiny details, connected in precise order, each mundane, each crucial.

The routine makes the eight years seem...

About the author

Ian Brown

IAN BROWN is an author and a feature writer for The Globe and Mail. The Boy in the Moon has won three of Canada's most prestigious literary awards: the Charles Taylor Prize, the Trillium Book Award, and the British Columbia National Book Award for Canadian Non-fiction.

Ken Blaze

Ian Brown

Macmillan Speakers ?


Macmillan Speakers Bureau

Represents thought-provoking authors and experts. We can find a speaker uniquely positioned for your audience and budget.

More info