by Ann Martin, published 2014
“I hear lots of things I’m not supposed to hear, and lots of things nobody else is able to hear, because my hearing is very acute, which is part of my diagnosis of high-functioning autism…”
The writing in this children’s book is so real that my annoyance set in right about page 4 or 5, which is probably what happens with most people’s first encounter with an obsessive autistic child. I had to make myself keep reading, which I believe is one of the strengths and points of this highly unusual book. The entire fiction is written in the voice of an autistic child, displaying all her unusual tendencies, such as obsession with homophones and prime numbers. However, getting past the behavior, we find a heart-breaking story of the redemption of one child’s life, as she deals with an unfortunately weak father.
There are many opinions one could form about this children’s book, and many questions it raises. Are all autistic children like this one? Why was the father doomed to failure? How do other children really cope with differences? All worthy questions. None are really answered in this children’s book, but they are certainly raised. The book is not comfortable to read, but it is significant and worthwhile, well-written, and moving. I highly recommend it for mature and thoughtful children who are ready to grapple with hard stuff. I don’t agree with the publisher’s age range of 9-12 as the relationship to the girl’s father can be upsetting. I think 11 and up is more appropriate.