TRAVERSE CITY — April is turning out to be a banner month for Traverse City writer Cari Noga.
In the space of a week, Noga launched her debut novel, “Sparrow Migrations,” and a shorter, excerpted book; read from and signed copies of the novel at a downtown bookstore; and was featured in the National Writers Series’ “Author Next Door” spotlight.
The novel (CreateSpace, $14.95 paperback, $2.99 ebook), addresses autism and hope through three intertwining storylines — a couple struggling with infertility, a lesbian couple coming out of the closet, and an autistic boy for which “The Miracle on the Hudson” plane crash is the catalyst for his first real-world relationships.
Noga said she wrote the book as a means to working through her emotions after her son, Owen, was diagnosed with autism in 2010.
“One of the scary things about an autism diagnosis is that it is such a huge range,” said Noga, 43, of Traverse City. “And you don’t know if they’re going to be a non-verbal dependent adult or a socially awkward, absent-minded professor. How do you prepare yourself for that, especially if what happens is not what you imagined?”
The mother of two, including 4-year-old Audrey, said she also wanted to express the “duality of life” in a family that includes a child on the autism spectrum.
“You love the child fiercely, you’re determined to be their advocate. Yet the simple things of day-to-day life — like running an errand, or getting dressed and out the door in the morning — can be an enormous strain that taxes every resource you have: time, patience, energy, other relationships, finances,” she said. “It’s impossible for that stress not to ripple outward from the family. Yet one truth doesn’t cancel out the other.”
Like 7-year-old Owen, Noga’s main protagonist — Robby Palmer — struggles with many of the traits of a child on the autism spectrum, from social difficulty with peers, to difficulty managing stress and frustration, often leading to meltdowns. As a result, the book is already resonating with everyone from special ed teachers to others parents of kids with autism.