Book Review – The Golden Hat / Talking Back to Autism

April 12, 2012

Book Review

The Golden Hat: Talking Back to Autism

Wow.  That is all I have to say.  I bought The Golden Hat:  Talking Back to Autism for ZAKSMOM as she (who hardly ever reads) devours anything regarding autism and the fact that she likes Kate Winslet didn’t hurt either.  Ok, I admit it, I was in the doghouse and thought this would be a nice peace offering.

I decided to flip through it before I gave it to her and found myself engrossed.  What an amazing idea and concept!  Ms. Winslett came up with the idea while getting to know Margaret Ericsdottir and her son Keli and agreeing to narrate for the movie Magaret was producing about autism.  She became engrossed in their lives and found herself wondering what it could only be like if her children were not able to communicate with her.  Keli is a non verbal autistic in his early teens.  The book starts with email communication between Kate and Margaret and it is compelling reading.  I spent the first hour engrossed by following them on this journey.  It is funny, touching, and you can feel the motivation and inspiration pouring off the pages.  It has an amazing passion and resolve and at that point I was hooked.

The hook of The Golden Hat, is Kate sent an old hat to many of her celebrity friends asking them to participate. She asked each celebrity to put the hat on, take a self-portrait and then answer the question, “What is important to you to express?”  Side note: I am not a celebrity sort of person.  I don’t follow it, hate TMZ and never understand why people are so interested in THEIR lives so this part of the book, going in, did nothing for me.  That said, the pictures are amazing and some of the quotes are equally great.  I especially liked Javier Bardem’s quote: “I am like you; don’t be afraid and look into my eyes.”  Some silly stuff, some serious stuff but all in wonderful taste and perfect fit for the book.

What really got to me is the ending of the book.  Keli is given the opportunity to share his poetry and if you are able to walk away without getting the pages wet with tears, you need to check your heart to be sure it is still beating.  Wonderfully expressed with some fun, sad, insightful and truly special words.  It should remind you that despite his inability (and most children affected with autism) that there is a real, strong, expressive and amazing person locked inside.  ZAKSMOM will tell you I am not emotional but this broke me up pretty good.

I went into reading The Golden Hat: Talking Back to Autism with extreme skepticism.  I have always wondered about the ulterior motives of celebrities that give their name to causes but Winslet provides us with a wonderful book and also gives all proceeds to The Golden Hat Foundation, which was setup and is being run by Winslet and Ericsdottir.  Go to for more information.  Bottom line, I loved this book.  I could not put it down once I got started.  You are not going to learn new ways to beat autism and you will not walk away knowing more about it but you will have a great feeling that life is good and there are people out there that are going to help.  Enjoy the book and stay sane.

You can buy the book from Amazon at this link:  The Golden Hat:  Talking Back to Autism


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