Young Adult – Anything But Typical

Jason is 12 years old and there are a lot of letters associated with him. PDD-NOS. NLD. ASD. Basically it means that he is not a “neurotypical kid.” This year, in the sixth grade, he no longer has a one-on-one aide. The year is not going very well so far.

One of Jason’s outlets is writing. He is an avid fan of the Storyboard messaging boards, where he meets and discusses stories with his only friend, Rebecca. When he learns that his parents have gotten him tickets to go to the big Storyboard contest, he is thrilled …. until he realizes that Rebecca is going too. Because once Rebecca meets him in real life, she’s going to realize that Jason in person is very different from Jason online.

The comparisons to Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime are inevitable. Both books are about boys on the autistic spectrum who struggle with the world around them. When I read Curious Incident I remember thinking that while I was not in a position to judge whether the author managed to capture the true thoughts of someone with autism, he did manage to adroitly show what it was like to be someone whose thought process is different from “normal”. I did not feel that to the same extent with this book. Jason’s thinking seemed to be very similar to “regular” kids, it was simply his actions that differed. Jason’s differences seemed to stem entirely from physical overstimulation, without any tangible changes to his worldview. On the one hand he states that he doesn’t know what other people want from him, but then on the next page he is writing a subtle story filled with allegory and complex relationships. His behavior ranges from extreme to quasi-normal as well. Perhaps I simply do not have enough exposure to children with autistic spectrum disorder to fully appreciate the book, but these contradictions confused me a bit.

That being said, the book was very good. I was interested from the first page, and wanted to know what would happen.


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