Thursday, March 25, 2010

Anything but Typical

Anything But Typical Nora Raleigh Baskin

The basic plot is that Jason is autistic. He's in 6th grade and this is his first year without a one-on-one aide. He struggles with fitting in, with remembering all the rules he's been taught about social interaction. He likes writing stories and makes a friend in an online community friend where he posts his stories. It then becomes apparent that this friend is a girl. This is a really good thing for Jason, until they both plan to be at the website's conference, and Jason knows that she will see him, and learn the truth about him, and no longer like him.

Of course, it's so much more than that. It's told from Jason's point of view, but not the way he would like to tell it, because:

"But more than people like talking in their own language, people like to hear things in a way they are most comfortable. The way they are used to. The way they can most easily related to, as if that makes it more real. So I will try to tell this story in that way.

And I will tell this story in first person.
I not he. Me not him. Mine not his.
In a neurotypical way.
I will try--
To tell my story in their language, in your language."

It's about Jason not fitting in. Sometimes he cares, sometimes he doesn't, depending. It makes life hard, not being neurotypical. What struck me most was his mother, who just couldn't let anything go. She wants to fix him, to make him better, to make him normal. His father accepts him for who he is, but his mother can't reconcile the child she wanted with the child she has. This is a major source of tension and the part of the story that spoke to me the most. But, I'm also an adult and I wonder if it will speak to child readers in the same way. But that's the mark of a good book, right? When you find new meaning in various plot lines depending on where you are in life at the moment? Also, what a perfect ending!

A side tangent about book covers. The cover pictured above is the paperback. This cover is the hardcover. Quite a difference! The swirls on the cover are also used in the chapter headings in both versions. I think the paperback cover has more kid-appeal, which is useful for getting it into the hands of readers, but I like the hardcover version, especially as it unifies the design concept. What are your thoughts?

Book Provided by... my local library

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Lauren said...

I've noticed that the hardback sat on our display shelf for a long long time with no one touching it. I wonder if the paperback will go any faster.

Melissa said...

I agree that the paperback is more kid-friendly, but I love the design of the hardback. It's just so purty. :-D

Doret said...

I like the paperback cover better, since it would be easier to sell.

Its very frustrating when a cover doesn't help sell the book, especially when hardbacks, since they cost more.