I guess Mark Haddon set the benchmark for novels embracing autism. So for any writer setting out with the intention of creating such a work it’s always going to be a big ask and for a debut writer it might pose questions as to their sanity! I fear I approach such works with anxiety as the subject is one I’m close to. My nephew is autistic. And he breaks my heart. I’ve never met such a pure, gentle soul as he, incapable of an unkind thought and more vulnerable for it. So I worry that when I come to read book about autism I may not be as objective as someone more removed from the subject.
When I began to read the book and realised it was narrated in the first person I started to worry more. For how can anyone ever really, truly understand the mind of an autistic person? However I am more than happy to admit that my fears were unfounded and I did enjoy this book. It is not just a novel about autism it is also about fostering and adoption and the issues faced by the adoptee, the adoptive parents and the birth parents. And I think this book goes a long way to raise the consciousness of these issues. The book is set in the USA where protocols and structures are different from the UK but the feelings and emotions experienced are universal.
What I liked about this book is that there is no attempt to sugar coat the situations. At times it is plain uncomfortable reading but that is the point surely? There is a frustration too as you beg the adults in this book to understand Ginny and that is one of the flaws for me; that it took so long for the root of Ginny’s desire to return to her mother to be understood by the therapist at the very least. But then of course there wouldn’t have been a story!! This is fiction not fact so I need to respect that.
I realise too that the writer has drawn upon a wealth of experience from conversations with other parents at Special Olympics basketball practice and in the true spirit of an enthusiastic debut novelist has sought to include them all in this book which was possibly another flaw. Too many ’incidents’?
But, hey, I’m beginning to sound like a representative from ’Nitpickers.com”. This is a captivating book. It is well written. And, as Mark Haddon did in ‘The Curious Incident……..’ there is a heart wrenching accuracy in showing how important numbers and colours and routines and schedules are to an autistic person. This book will spiral it’s way into your heart. And you will embrace Ginny Moon and root for her every step of the way. It flies a flag for autism and adoption. I inevitably return to my nephew and if this book helps others understand and accept him then it will be the best book in the world right now. For every adopted person and every autistic person in this world today I hope it is a best seller.