Saturday, November 5, 2016

Anything but Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin

Title: Anything but Typical
Author: Nora Raleigh Baskin
Format: Novel (middle grade)
Length: 195 pages

The Story

Jason Blake is a 12 year old autistic boy. He struggles to fit in with his neurotypical classmates, but has more success interacting on a website called Storyboard, where he writes short stories and talks to other young writers. There, he meets a girl named PhoenixBird, who he thinks of as his girlfriend, but when the chance to meet her in person comes along, he panics.

My Thoughts

I picked this book up because it is written from an autistic perspective and seemed to make use of the concept of neurodiversity (the idea that autistic people just have a different sort of brain rather than having something wrong with them). Different perspectives are present in the book: Jason's dad is an accepting, understanding parent, who sometimes struggles but ultimately accepts Jason as he is. His mom is another story, having a lot of difficulty understanding her son and interacting with him in a way that works for him. Jason himself is sort of in between, uncertain at times whether or not he would choose to be neurotypical if he could.

I would have liked to see more of a transformation in how the characters came to view autism by the end of the story. I found it to be pretty subtle. But there is a positive message in there and overall I still enjoyed the story and was rooting for Jason all the way.

This book is good for middle grade readers. I think autistic kids and teens may enjoy the relatable character, and neurotypicals who have autistic friends or family members could gain some insight from Jason's narrative.

1 comment:

  1. This book sounds wonderful, especially for pre-teens as you state. Too bad it is a few years too late for me to suggest it to my almost 16 year old twin grandchildren! I'm not aware if they have friends who are autistic, in any case, they are both very empathetic and sympathetic toward others with issues.