Grammy-nominated musician Allison Moorer’s lyrical memoir, a testament to love and resilience through the lens of parenting her young son, John Henry, who has nonverbal autism.​

Dear John Henry: I can’t remember who it was that once said to me, “You’re one of those people with one of those lives,” but I do remember not being able to argue that urgent and important things have happened. They still do. Those happenings inevitably require a response from me, and the best one I can offer is to try to turn them and their effects into something I can present back and whisper, “Here’s what I’ve faced. Here’s what I’ve learned from it. You are not alone in how you feel. No matter what it is, it can be okay.” That’s the most honorable way I’ve figured out how to be of help or service in this world. More than any other person or event, you have taught me, and you have changed me just by being you. So I can’t imagine keeping to myself what a profound effect you’ve had on who I am. That is the most urgent and important of all the things that have happened. I figure you’re okay with people knowing that and understand that if I left you out of the stories I tell, I’d be leaving them mostly untold because you are, in fact, the constant co-author of my life now. My gratitude for you feels endless, but I want to thank you most of all for showing me that the best way to love a person is to let them be exactly who they are.

When Allison Moorer’s son, John Henry, stopped talking just before his second birthday, she was devastated, even though Allison knew in her bones that something was shifting. In the  years since John Henry’s diagnosis of nonverbal autism, Allison and John Henry have embarked on a powerful journey—filled with the heartbreak, adventure, confusion, and unending love that are the hallmarks of a quest for understanding.

In I Dream He Talks to Me, Allison details the temper tantrums and the moments of grace, the mundane expectations of a parent that turn into something extraordinary. The saying goes, “If you know one person with autism, you know one person with autism”; no two stories are alike, and yet there are universal truths. With the same gorgeous prose that is a hallmark of  her first memoir, Blood, Allison shares her and John Henry’s unique story while also creating a riveting narrative that will appeal to anyone who has questioned their own ability to parent. An exploration of resilience, compassion—both for ourselves and others—I Dream He Talks to Me is also a moving meditation on language: what words mean, what they don’t, and ultimately how we truly communicate with and know those whom we love.

What's Inside

Read More Read Less

Reader Reviews


"Beautiful, heart-wrenching . . . Moorer's masterful, comforting storytelling may serve as solace for those who've faced abuse, a signal for those in it to get out, and an eye-opener for others."
Publishers Weekly starred review

"Moorer's memoir is full of backstory-memories, current notes and thoughts, and well-described metaphors that come together fluidly, all told with grit and lyrical prose. ...Her writing is beautiful and gripping and will stop readers in their tracks...a must-read."
Booklist starred review

"There is much wisdom in her experience as well as in her reflections on what she has read and heard....Much different from most musicians' memoirs and of much interest to all who wrestle to understand tragedies of their own."
Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"Allison Moorer is known for songs of ragged, poetic honesty -- and for the emotional clarity of her country western ballads. Her debut memoir exhibits these qualities and more."
LitHub, one of the most anticipated books of 2019

"There are few writers -- few people, in fact -- who could examine with such profound bravery the immense suffering and trauma in her story, infuse it with a lyrical sense of timelessness, and make us feel grateful for the telling. Blood is both unflinching and redemptive: a song of loss and courage."
Rosanne Cash

"Like her songwriting, Moorer's prose is steeped in a rich sense of place, vivid characterization, and a story you will never forget. Not since Joan Didion's Blue Nights has grief been explored with so much beauty and complexity."
Silas House, author of Southernmost

"Grit and grace, beauty and pain, on every wise page. Allison Moorer has given us a memoir as bloody, rich, and complex as red Alabama clay."
Alice Randall, author of The Wind Done Gone

"Blood reveals the complicated mess of love and hurt that all too many readers will recognize. Moorer herself survived the unimaginable, and her poetic testimony should summon vigorous new attention to the public-health crisis that is male anger."
Sarah Smarsh, author of Heartland

"Blood is the most vulnerable work you're likely to read for quite some time."
Rick Bass, author of For a Little While

"[A] harrowing debut."—Elle

"Her voice rings with equal parts defiance and vulnerability."

"[Moorer's] written this book like a symphony. It is expansive, and its three parts feel like movements. Moorer fills them with prose that has the sharp honesty of the greatest songwriters."
The Bitter Southerner

"Written with brave, clear-eyed compassion for all involved, Blood is an astonishing and moving meditation on family inheritance and acceptance. Despite her family's singularly tragic circumstances, Blood tells a universal story about the things our parents pass down to us -- what we learn to be grateful for, what we release ourselves from, and what we simply leave alone."
Jennifer Palmieri, author of Dear Madame President

Read More Read Less