This book takes you away, makes you think about your perceptions of people, makes you think about language, actions, reactions, and how we treat others.
It also made me cry. (Which is a rare and unusual thing, and also mildly embarrassing, since I was reading this while sitting in the salon waiting for my child to get her hair cut …)
Twelve-year-old Jason is autistic. He’s saddled with labels and letters — ADOS, LD, HFA, PDD-NOS, NT — and yet, those labels, letters and names don’t define him. Or, at least, he tries not to be defined by them. Yes, getting through the day is difficult, and any little thing can set him off, often beyond his control. But, what he really wants to be seen as, defined by, is his ability to write stories.
(As an aside, I loved this quote:
“But really, if you ask me, there is only one kind of plot.
He posts his stories on a fanfiction website, Storyboard, and one of them gets a comment from PhoenixBird — who happens to be a girl. Jason and PhoenixBird seem to connect; at one point, he tells people that she’s his “girlfriend.” Then there’s a Storyboard convention, and it turns out that PhoenixBird will be there. Jason — because of past experiences, because he knows how people react to him when meeting him for the first time — is anxious about going.
I don’t want to give away much more than that. I’ve read books about autistic kids before, but never have I felt so involved in the life of one. Baskin sticks us, as readers, inside Jason’s head — and sometimes he is an unreliable narrator because his interpretation of events doesn’t always match up with what “actually” happens — and lets us live through his triumphs, pains, anxiety, hopes, fears, love. It’s a beautifully written book; not because the language is poetic, though sometimes it is, but because it’s spare, tight, with no wasted words, no wasted pages.