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WITH THE LIGHT: Raising an Autistic Child by Keiko Tobe

WITHTHELIGHT_1 With the Light: Raising an Autistic Child is a simultaneously poignant and heartwarming story of a young mother attempting to cope with an increasingly common affliction. With the Light has been universally recognized for its sensitive portrayal of autism, winning an Excellence Prize for manga at the eighth annual Japan Media Arts Festival.
With the Light © Keiko Tobe / AKITASHOTEN
WITH THE LIGHT Volume 1
by Keiko Tobe 

September 2007 | ISBN: 978-0-7595-2356-2 | $14.99 ($17.25) | 528 pages | 5.75″x 8.25″

Born during the sunrise — an auspicious beginning — the Azumas’ newborn son is named Hikaru, which means “light”. But during one play date, his mother notices that her son is slightly different from the other children. In the alternately heartwarming and bittersweet tale, a young mother tries to cope with both the overwhelming discovery of her child’s autism and the trials of raising him while keeping her family together. This is a story that resonates not only for those whose families have been affected by autism, but also for all past, present, and future parents.

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WITH THE LIGHT Volume 2
by Keiko Tobe 

March 2008 | ISBN: 978-0-7595-2359-3 | $14.99 ($17.25) | 528 pages | 5.75″x 8.25″

Sachiko and Masato Azuma have overcome numerous obstacles in dealing with their firstborn son Hikaru’s autism. Having saved their marriage from ending in ruins, the young couple has welcomed a healthy baby girl, Kanon, into their tight-knit family. But with the obvious differences between Hikaru’s and Kanon’s developmental abilities, it becomes apparent that social prejudices against Hikaru’s disability are never far away. As Hikaru moves into fourth grade, Sachiko encounters a new student, Miyu, whose mother has completely given up on her daughter’s life and her own. With the help of Hikaru’s beloved teacher, Aoki-sensei, Sachiko aims to bring hope back to Miyu’s family. But when Aoki-sensei transfers to a different school and Hikaru’s special education class is thrown into upheaval by yet another tragedy, can Sachiko continue to hold on to her own hope for her son’s future?

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WITH THE LIGHT Volume 3
by Keiko Tobe 

September 2008 | ISBN: 978-0-7595-2384-5 | $14.99 ($16.99) | 528 pages | 5.75″x 8.25″

A little effort goes a long way — that’s what Sachiko, Honda-san, and Gunji-sensei learn as they struggle to work together to make life easier for the Special Education children. With the help of gadgets and the support of more people in their environment than meets the eye, Hikaru and Miyu become able to communicate better with the world around them. But when Hikaru’s teen idol classmate sends some mothers into a flashbulb frenzy that causes Hikaru to panic, other parents begin to question his presence alongside “normal” students in the classroom. Hikaru’s first school trip also ends in disaster, when he gets separated from the group, and Sachiko begins to worry that Hikaru is losing his hard-fought place in society.

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WITH THE LIGHT Volume 4
by Keiko Tobe 

March 2009 | ISBN: 978-0-7595-2385-2 | $14.99 ($16.99) | 528 pages | 5.75″x 8.25″

When staffing changes at Masato’s company get him transferred to a dead-end job in the middle of nowhere, more suffering and despair seem imminent for the Azuma family. However, Masato approaches the situation with aplomb and comes up with new ways to pave the way for Hikaru and those like him to become “cheerful working adults”…with surprising results. Hikaru himself seems to be getting closer, bit by bit, to achieving this goal as the Azumas decide to foster their son’s independence in a variety of ways, including getting to and from school on his own. But when Hikaru encounters an old acquaintance on the way home and leads Sachiko to a horrific discovery, will the Azumas be able to return a favor and help out a friend in need?

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WITH THE LIGHT Volume 5
by Keiko Tobe 

September 2009 | ISBN: 978-0-7595-2401-9 | $14.99 ($17.99) | 528 pages | 5.75″x 8.25″

Another school year might be over for Hikaru Azuma, but his mom has no time to rest. With both a new teacher and new classmates of different ages and varying disabilities ahead in fifth grade, Sachiko starts preparing for the difficulties that come with sudden changes to her autistic son’s routine. Despite her best efforts, Sachiko meets with much opposition from the new teacher, and the Azumas have to cope with Hikaru acting out as a result of the stressful changes at school. Moreover, when the time comes for the family to decide on Hikaru’s junior high, the local education administrators seem to think that a school for the disabled is the best fit for Hikaru, partly because of his recent behavior. But Sachiko, who has done her research, knows this to be false. Will she and Masato be able to convince the authorities and specialists that they know what is best for their son?

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WITH THE LIGHT Volume 6
by Keiko Tobe 

March 2010 | ISBN: 978-0-316-07733-0 | $14.99 ($17.99) | 528 pages | 5.75″x 8.25″

For Sachiko and Masato, it seems like only yesterday that their children, Hikaru and Kanon, were little. But these days, Kanon is about to start elementary school, while Hikaru is getting out into society and going to junior high by bus. Time may fly, but in the outside world, some of Hikaru’s actions that were acceptable at home or in his elementary school Special Ed classes just aren’t anymore. When one of these habits creates chaos during the morning commute, Sachiko has to find a way to clear up a serious misunderstanding with Hikaru’s fellow commuters and take steps to curb any behavior that might stand in the way of Hikaru living in the world as “a cheerful, working adult.” Furthermore, dealing with the negative attitudes that others — including her mother-in-law — have about Hikaru begins to take its toll on Sachiko, especially with Masato occupied at work. Will the stress of facing new challenges presented by Hikaru’s autism drive a rift between the two?

WITH THE LIGHT Volume 7
by Keiko Tobe 

September 2010 | ISBN: 978-0-316-07734-7 | $14.99 ($16.99) | 528 pages | 5.75″x 8.25″

For most parents, their child’s teenage years are just as bad, if not worse, than the terrible twos. But for Sachiko and Masato Azuma, the situation is further complicated by their son Hikaru’s autism. As puberty strikes, Hikaru’s growing sexual awareness creates uncomfortable and embarrassing situations, and begins to affect his little sister, Kanon. The already-taxed Sachiko must find ways to alleviate the situation, while being mindful of the effects her approach may have on her children and on the people around them. But when Masato is told he has to relocate again for work, the pressure is really on Sachiko as the decision is made to move in with her mother-in-law, who has always been less-than-accommodating to Hikaru’s needs. With new challenges arising daily — Hikaru tackling adolescence through the lens of autism, Kanon struggling with peer pressure, Masato throwing himself into the new job — will Sachiko, the Azuma family’s rock, succumb to the cracks that have begun to form in her generally cheerful outlook on life?

WITH THE LIGHT Volume 8
by Keiko Tobe 

September 2011 | ISBN: 978-0-316-19445-7 | $11.99 ($12.99) | 304 pages | 5.75″x 8.25″

While trying to create a place in society for her autistic son, Hikaru, has been an uphill battle, Sachiko Azuma has long known that perhaps the toughest place to find acceptance for him is within her own family. Despite some progress made, Sachiko’s mother-in-law still treats her grandson as a nuisance and sees him in many ways as inferior to his little sister, Kanon. Now that the Azuma family has moved into Masato’s childhood home, Sachiko must not only adapt to life with her mother-in-law — she also must help Hikaru, whose developmental disabilities make it notoriously difficult for him to accept changes to his routine, adapt to this new living situation and a new school. As Sachiko tries to balance caring for Kanon and Hikaru in the face of her mother-in-law’s constant disapproval, will the Azuma family emerge from what seems like the darkest of tunnels into the light?

Told in completed chapters as well as unfinished pages that the creator drew while battling a long illness, this final volume of With the Light serves as a legacy to the late Keiko Tobe’s inspiring dedication to bring to light the hardships and joys of raising an autistic child for readers around the world.

series complete
If you liked With the Light, check out: 

Bunny Drop by Yumi Unita
Yotsuba&! by Kiyohiko Azuma

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