Set against the backdrop of a decaying Midwestern city, How to Walk with Steve is a memoir of a boy’s connection with his autistic brother in a family defined by alcoholism, art, and death. Robert Fromberg immerses us in an early childhood made relentlessly unpredictable by autism and addiction; his teenage years alone in New York City; and his young adulthood as guardian of his brother after the death of their parents. With short, immersive segments — conversational, candid, and often humorous — this potent new memoir finds moments of human intimacy amidst a story of love and loss, struggle and survival.
“Fragmented yet unified, direct yet elusive, How to Walk with Steve is a vivid memoir about family and geography, obligation and freedom. Fromberg has a remarkable ability to inject meaning into silence, into the cracks between sections, into all the things that remain unsaid.”
–Brett Biebel, author of 48 Blitz
“How to Walk with Steve is an inviting, conversational, and deeply personal portrait of a man’s relationship with his brother across places and across time. Full of humor, honesty, and surprise, Fromberg’s carefully crafted memoir shows the challenges and obligations—and also the faith and love—that connect siblings through the years.”
–Scott Kenemore, author of Lake of Darkness
“Fully aware of his brother’s oblique brilliance as well as his most upsetting tics, Fromberg presents the string of decisions, unforced errors, and well-meaning efforts that he made along the way to adulthood. He is as unsparing to himself as he is to those around him, and the effect is both agonizing and hilarious.”
–Valerie Block, author of Was It Something I Said?
“Robert Fromberg’s poignant memoir details the painful ordinariness of misery—even for the bright scion of an artistic family. The narrator’s experience of the Peoria landscape with its dull roads and trains and repetitive residential streets—and of jobs that involve repeated tasks—echo the description of Steve’s obsessions and compulsions. In this way, Fromberg normalizes Steve’s behavior and brings him fully into the range of common experience. Over time, the writer grows beyond merely accepting responsibility for his brother; he comes to cherish him and the irreducible bond the brothers share when all else is stripped away. In refusing easy consolations, Fromberg has created a memoir that shines like polished bone.”
–Patricia Eakins, author of The Hungry Girls and Other Stories
“Without a trace of affectation or adornment, Fromberg depicts the searing moments that made him who he is. Never have I read a more authentic, deeply-felt rendering of a child’s developing mind.”
–Leslie Lawrence, author of The Death of Fred Astaire: And Other Essays from a Life Outside the Lines
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Average rating from 6 members
Robert Fromberg shares memories of his life: his dysfunctional family, his early escape to college, marriage, and his relationship with his autistic brother, Steve. Each paragraph tells its own story, creating a mosaic of thoughts, emotions, and small moments that led to Fromberg's personal growth. I was expecting a little more about his relationship with Steve, but overall I enjoyed this memoir.
How to Walk with Steve was an okay book. It was basically a lot of short stories written about the authors family experiences, they weren't necessary chapters, as some short stories weren't even a page long. At times it was hard to follow along with how the author got to his next thought, but it was definitely intriguing. Robert had a tough childhood that was made even tougher with drugs/alcohol in his family. Through reading this book, I thought several times that Robert may also be on the spectrum. He has organizational tendencies and also likes things just so in his environment. It was interesting to see the evolution of his relationship with Steve. It was interesting to me that this book is portrayed as going through how he deals with Steve, but really it's a life story to show Roberts struggles and triumphs.
I finished this book weeks ago, and am still unsure of how to properly review it. I LOVED the viewpoint of raising an autistic brother, especially in a time when autistic folks weren't treated well. I am from close to where the author grew up in Illinois, so I also loved knowing exactly where he was talking about - Bradley University, Lamb's Farm, etc. However, I struggled to get into the writing style. I understand the choice to write in such a chunked way, alluding to how our memories of childhood are scattered and not linear. Not sure if I struggled with it because I was reading it on vacation, and my brain wanted a "lighter" read, but I was never fully invested in Robert's story in the way I'd hoped I would be. Too many holes in the story - a second wife and kids, for example, that I would have loved to know more about! In all, it's still a book I would recommend to people with autistic siblings or children, but I don't know that I'd recommend it widely to anyone looking to read a biography.
A beautiful story, shown in brief flashes of thought, of two brothers and their struggles with autism, a dysfunctional family, and a wonder world not always suitable for them.
Robert Fromberg's stream of conciousness writing style takes some getting used to but is very effective in getting his experiences, thoughts, and reactions across. The middle child in a dysfunctional family defined by alcoholism, addiction and the impact of the autism of his younger brother Steve, Robert was continually trying to find a place where he fit in. The unpredictability and instability of his young years and the tremendous anxiety he carried as a result are heart breaking. The book covers his childhood years, life as a teen living on his own in NYC, and his life as a young adult when he became guardian of Steve following the death of his parents. Touching, painful, raw, and yet sometimes funny, I applaud the author's courage in sharing his experiences with us. This book is a lesson in resilience, spirit, and love, My thanks to NetGalley and Mindbuck Media for allowing me to read an ARC of this memoir which is scheduled to be published 9/7/2021. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.
Thanks to NetGalley and Mindbuck Media for the ARC! ----- The one thing that really stuck with me from the beginning of this book was the style of writing. At first, I wasn’t sure how I would like reading a book that seemed more a stream of consciousness than an ordered plot, but it turned out to be one of my favorite things about it. • I love that as a child, Fromberg has a unit of measurement for how long it would take him to recover from an embarrassing situation. I love his descriptions of Steve. The way he had to grow up prematurely, and his descriptions of the things he went through.