Story at a glance

  • Excerpts from the book titled “Our House is on Fire: Scenes of a Family and a Planet in Crisis” have been released.
  • Thunberg’s mother, Malena Ernman, details events leading up to her daughter’s autism diagnosis.
  • The book describes how the teen became interested in environmental issues when her teacher showed a video on ocean pollution.

Excerpts from an upcoming book by Greta Thunberg’s mother are detailing the teen climate change activist’s struggles as a child, describing her selective mutism, an eating disorder and her autism diagnosis. 

In the book “Our House is on Fire: Scenes of a Family and a Planet in Crisis,” Greta’s mother, Malena Ernman, revealed how her daughter’s depression grew at age 11. Ernman says her daughter didn’t speak and wouldn’t eat beyond small amounts of rice, avocado and gnocchi, according to the Guardian

“She was slowly disappearing into some kind of darkness, and little by little, bit by bit, she seemed to stop functioning” Erman wrote in the book. “She stopped playing the piano. She stopped laughing. She stopped talking. And she stopped eating.” 

Ernman details in the book how her daughter lost more than 20 pounds in a span of two months and was almost admitted to a hospital. When she returned to school, Ernman said her daughter was bullied and school officials blamed her.

“Their understanding of the situation is different. It’s Greta’s own fault, the school thinks,” Ernman wrote. Greta was eventually diagnosed with “high-functioning” autism and obsessive compulsive disorder. 

Greta’s mother describes how her daughter first became interested in environmental issues. It happened after her teacher showed a film about pollution in the ocean. 

“Greta can’t reconcile any of this with any of what she has just seen,” Ernman wrote. “She saw what the rest of us did not want to see. It was as if she could see our CO2 emissions with her naked eye.” 

Thunberg, who’s now 17, has garnered global attention since 2018 when she began missing school to protest against what she claimed was inaction by world leaders to take on the climate crisis. Since then, she has spoken out on the world stage and encouraged students to participate in protests demanding actions on environmental issues. 

She was named Time magazine’s 2019 “Person of the Year,” and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for the second consecutive year. 

Published on Feb 24, 2020