Catherine’s little brother, David, has autism. Which really isn’t that bad, in Catherine’s mind. Sure, it means she has to baby-sit, and keep her stuff away from him, and write up rules so he can understand how the world works. But she really does love her little brother, even while she hopes for a more “normal” life.
Then, when a girl her own age — Kristi — moves in next door, she has the chance. As it turns out, she also meets a guy — Jason — at her brother’s occupational therapy appointments. Jason, however, is in a wheelchair and can’t talk except for pointing at word cards on a tray attached to his chair. Catherine strikes up a friendship with him, and enjoys his company, yet she’s afraid to tell Kristi about it.
While the conflict in this book is minimal — mostly it’s just Catherine’s frustrations with her life being defined by her younger brother — it’s a really engaging book. While I have minimal experience with any sort of disabilities, I liked that Lord doesn’t treat them as anything exceptional. Fact: Jason is in a wheelchair and can’t talk. It doesn’t hinder his character development or the plot. Lord even manages to get across Jason’s sense of humor. Fact: David is autistic. Again, it’s not something seen as a challenge — though for Catherine it certainly is at times — but rather as just part of David’s beimg. Lord writes in such a way that treats everything with not only humor, but also sympathy, which makes everything feel exactly right.
And all of it together makes this book simply un-put-down-able.