Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Anything but Typical, by Nora Raleigh Baskin
I'm working hard to catch up on my reading after long months in Deadline Land. Tonight I had the good fortune to read Anything but Typical, by Nora Raleigh Baskin, winner of the 2010 ALA Schneider Family Award for Middle Grade. The Schneider Family Award recognizes "a book that embodies an artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences." 12-year old Jason Blake, a student with Autism, or ASD (for Autism Spectrum Disorder), has more to manage and remember in a given day than NT (Neurotypical) peers will deal with in a month. His feelings are poignant, even if he doesn't express them typically, or appear to express them at all. On a website where he posts stories he's written, he forms a new friendship, but when the opportunity to meet this friend at a story writing convention surfaces, Jason's terribly afraid Rebecca will respond to him the way other girls do, and that's far too much risk to face, however eager his parents are to go. A perceptive, non-patronizing middle grade realistic novel; most strongly recommended.
Autism intersects with my life in several significant ways, and for that reason, among others, I have tended to avoid novels addressing autism. I'm extremely glad I overcame my own hesitation (Jason and I have a few things in common) and read this graceful novel. The author has my heartiest congratulations.