Cowboy & Wills

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 17 October, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 17 October, 2010, 12:00am

Cowboy & Wills
by Monica Holloway
Pocket Books HK$104

The cover of this book shows a cherubic-faced boy being nuzzled by a golden retriever who is looking at him with adoring eyes. What this joyful picture does not reveal is the devastating diagnosis of Wills, the lad, with autism and the tumultuous journey his parents embarked on to try to integrate him into the surrounding world. This is a heart-rending story, told with great restraint by a hugely proud mother about her beloved only son. She also makes clear that she realises she is immensely fortunate in having so much support and resources, financial and otherwise. But for many readers Cowboy, the retriever, will head the star cast for the way in which she helped Wills change his life. After Holloway had bought her son fish, hamsters, a rabbit, tortoise and even frogs, she says: 'What I could not have known was that one of the animals would become the one true friend to raise my son's confidence, elicit his first belly laugh, and have other children clamouring to play with him.' What makes this account so absorbing is not just the tender writing but the accompanying pictures of Cowboy helping Wills, in his mother's words, 'step a little further into the world'.