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The A.V. Club Book Review :: The Winter of Our Disconnect

The Onion weighs in ... in typical style. Love the shout-out to Hollywood that kicks it all off. Nancy Meyers, are you listening? The Onion Review :: The Winter of Our Disconnect Tasha Robinson

If Susan Maushart’s book The Winter Of Our Disconnect: How Three Totally Wired Teenagers (And A Mother Who Slept With Her iPhone) Pulled The Plug On Their Technology And Lived To Tell The Tale hasn’t been made into a movie within a year or two, it’s proof that everyone in Hollywood is asleep at the switch. It’s the perfect cinema-ready blend of zeitgeist-tapping story and heartwarming uplift piece. It’s infinitely relatable for anyone who owns more than three portable electronic devices. It’s full of wry-but-Middle-America-friendly comic moments, and it comes with a built-in moral. Given all that, it’s also pat and predictable, a by-the-numbers mash-up of the lifestyle-experiment book genre (see also The Year Of Living Biblically, Julie & Julia, Living Oprah, etc.) and an Erma Bombeck family-humor book. But like so many lifestyle-experiment books, it asks readers to look up from their routines and actually notice their own lives for a moment, and it’s hard to see that as a bad thing.

As the subtitle spells out, Winter Of Our Disconnect documents a six-month period where Perth author/journalist Maushart and her three reluctant, bribed-into-compliance teenagers gave up anything with a screen: cell phones, computers, TVs, gaming systems, mp3 players, and so forth. (Use of school computers or friends’ TVs or games were permitted; technology was just banned from the home and the participants’ personal possession.) The broad results won’t surprise any reader: Maushart and her family members were initially bored and at a loss, but soon started entertaining themselves by coming closer as a family and engaging in time-consuming tasks they’d been too addled and distracted for, like cooking, learning a musical instrument, reading books, and simply having long, intimate conversations with each other.