Understanding how extraordinary minds function is a nearly impossible task, and yet, the persons that possess these brains are so very unique that the general public are attracted to them: some out of empathy, some by a thirst for scientific knowledge, and some out of just plain curiosity. I, personally, fall into the latter category. I have never met a true savant but have known a few persons with Asperger’s Syndrome, as well as others with varieties of autism. I have enjoyed their company while simply wondering at how they think.
Mr. Tammet is an autistic savant and has learned to function in the modern world, thanks mainly to a healthy family structure while growing up in England. In this autobiography, we are introduced to the world through his eyes and learn to see ourselves in a different way by his explanations of how he reasons through different social settings and use of spoken language.
For me, I recognized numerous “a-ha” moments from some of my own interactions with autistic people that are helping me to understand why certain people act the way they do. The author is a very good mechanical writer and is adept at explaining concepts that are difficult for others to comprehend. The prose is very straightforward and can be difficult to wade through at times because it lacks much emotion, except in certain sections where it is clear that Mr. Tammet has very strong feelings about the subject.
I thoroughly enjoyed the sections about his childhood and early teens, but the book dragged a bit after that until he reached his early twenties and became involved in scientific studies, charity organizations, and a few documentaries about himself and his talents. The writing in those sections was markedly different than the others and much more pleasing to read.