Eye Contact wants to be two books. The better book follows the path of acceptance and eventual, albeit limited, understanding between Adam, a nine-year-old autistic boy, and his mother Cara. The novel starts strongly with these two, especially in illuminating Adam’s thought processes, and in describing the mother’s difficult work of encouraging Adam to develop both within and beyond her expectations. But the half of Eye Contact that wants to be an engaging thriller is the half whose genes dominate the rest of story, creating a confusing, unfocused, quasi-mystery full of too many false leads, too many late revelations, and too many last minute characters to sustain interest and believability.The book’s turn from focusing on a youth group for developmentally challenged children to constructing a larger world in which so many characters are physically and mentally damaged is unnecessary, exaggerated, and potentially offensive. The point of Adam’s particular way of thinking is lost in a crowd of less interesting secondaries whose flaws seem manufactured and insincerely characterized.With so much of autism a mystery, and with an author whose own family experiences feed the very best and truest passages of this book, McGovern could have written a simple story of family to great benefit. In playing for a wider audience, the author's readers suffer, her plot is lost, and the topic in which McGovern so eagerly wishes us to engage is all but forgotten for a passing thrill.