Tom Fields-Meyer

FOLLOWING EZRA: What One Father Learned About Gumby, Otters, Autism, and Love from His Extraordinary Son (NAL)

2011 National Jewish Book Award Finalist

Tom Fields-Meyer has been a writer and journalist for more than 25 years. He spent twelve years at People magazine as an associate editor and senior writer, specializing in human-interest stories and profiles of newsmakers. His work ranged from coverage of the O.J. Simpson trial to the murder of Matthew Shepherd to a cover on the death of Pope John Paul II. After hundreds of articles about famous people and high-profile newsmakers, it was a story about his own family that inspired the greatest outpouring. His April 2007 piece about his son Ezra, “Finding My Son at the Zoo,” drew enthusiastic praise from a wide variety of readers. “I read People constantly,” wrote one of the many who contacted the magazine, “but I don’t ever remember crying like I did when I read the article about the autistic young man named Ezra.”

Fields-Meyer has now expanded that article into a book.  Full of tender moments and unexpected humor, Following Ezra is the story of a father and son on a ten-year journey from Ezra’s diagnosis to the dawn of his adolescence. It celebrates his evolution from a remote toddler to an extraordinary young man connected in his own remarkable ways to the world around him.

Fields-Meyer previously worked as a news reporter and feature writer for the Dallas Morning News and was a senior editor at the Chronicle of Higher Education. His freelance work has appeared in Time, The New York Times Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times and Esquire. A graduate of Harvard College, Fields-Meyer lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Rabbi Shawn Fields-Meyer, and their three sons.

Praise for FOLLOWING EZRA

“Following Ezra is a revelation. I could not put it down. Life rarely goes according to plan, and too often we try to control situations that are beyond our control. In this life-affirming book, Tom Fields-Meyer offers a rare gift: He teaches that the things we least plan for can become our greatest treasures. This inspiring memoir of a father raising (and being raised by) his autistic son is a great lesson about patience and the blessings that can come when we let our unique children lead us.” —Naomi Levy, author of To Begin Again and Hope Will Find You

“I look for love in books about children. I trust the parent who yields to wonder and celebrates the unexpected. I honor the writer who tells a family story with dignity, clarity, and grace. Love is the river that runs through this book. Dignity and grace light each page.”  —Beth Kephart, National Book Award finalist for A Slant of Sun and author of Undercover

“Anyone who is raising a child with special needs should read Following Ezra. It shows how warmth and humor—yes, humor—can help not just the child, but the family, more than most of us could ever imagine.” —James Patterson

“A riveting account of raising one special boy, Following Ezra is a powerful story for parents of any child. This inspiring book shows us that seeing meaning and depth in our children’s idiosyncrasies is crucial to raising strong, secure and resilient kids. Tom Fields-Meyer has written a beautiful, funny, tender book. I highly recommend it.” —Michael Gurian, New York Times bestselling author of The Wonder of Boys

“When Tom Fields-Meyer’s son Ezra was diagnosed with autism, the author decided to forego mourning for the child who might have been and concentrate instead on the delightful kid he had. Following Ezra is at once a meticulous description of what it is to parent a child who has autism, and a salute to the kid whose mind takes both of them to mysterious, profound, and silly places we so-called typical adults can scarcely imagine.”  —Carolyn See, author of Making a Literary Life and grandmother of a child with autism

“A book about autism isn’t supposed to be funny. But I laughed reading Following Ezra as much as I cried. There’s sadness here, but also great joy, boundless love and inspiring devotion. Following Ezra—and reading his story—makes us better people. This book is a great and uplifting gift.”         —Daniel Gordis, author of Saving Israel and Coming Together, Coming Apart

Following Ezra is an unsentimental, beautifully written memoir about a boy whose limitations and gifts are as extraordinary as his impact on the reader’s life. Like Ezra himself, this book is by turns funny, painful, poignant and scrupulously honest.”  —David Wolpe, author of Why Faith Matters

Following Ezra is a revealing and poignant memoir, told with deep reflection and insight. We feel the fear of the unknown, the peace of acceptance, the exhilaration of hope, and the endurance of love as father and son discover each other and find their way. It will bring help and inspiration to all those who wear these shoes, and enlighten all parents to celebrate the uniqueness of their children.” –Ricki G. Robinson, M.D., M.P.H., author of Autism Solutions: How to Create a Healthy and Meaningful Life for your Child

“Ezra’s struggles to live life fully and to be a participant in his beautiful family and the larger world will fill your heart and inspire you. His sweetness, courage, and resilience come alive in his father’s watchful gaze and masterful portrayal. Reading this book, you feel like you just gained a new set of relatives—wise, sometimes goofy, always remarkable.”  —Bradley Shavit Artson, dean of the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies and author of The Everyday Torah

Tom Fields-Meyer expands our humanity and demonstrates that love and connection are possible in ways we might not have imagined—if only we are open. I laughed and I cried as I read page after page of this poignant, powerful, inspiring, and gentle book.”  —David Ellenson, President, Hebrew Union College

“Following Ezra is a spot-on memoir that becomes positively transcendent as we follow sweet, worried, joyful Ezra from childhood into early adolescence and the preparations for his bar mitzvah. This story will illuminate the experience of parenting a child with autism for those who don’t know it and will resonate with those of us who know it all too well. There are blessings along the way, and Tom Fields-Meyer depicts them beautifully.”  —Cammie McGovern, author of Eye Contact

"In a world with such narrow yet outsized definitions of success, this enchanting and profound book is a reminder that each child is made in God's image. I was sad to reach the last page.  I'll miss following the exuberant Ezra." --Wendy Mogel, bestselling author of The Blessing of a Skinned Knee and The Blessing of a B Minus