The White Bicycle by Beverley Brenna
Taylor Jane is living in the south of France for the summer, with her mother, her mother’s boyfriend, and his two sons. The youngest son has cerebral palsy and Taylor is employed as his personal care assistant (that sounds better than babysitter.) She hopes that her mother and Alan Phoenix don’t get married this summer, because then they’d be family, and it wouldn’t be a real job she can put on her resume.
Taylor wants a professional resume so she can lead her own lie, without her mother’s constant watching. She yearns for the independence and freedom that most girls her age have, but Taylor doesn’t. Yet.
Taylor is autistic but by this point in her life she has learned many ways to cope with her anger and frustration. She uses a lot of these ways very consciously and walks us through such things as sending her anger through her feet. She also looks back on her early childhood to see if there are connections that can be made between then and now, but it gives the reader great insight into her mindset, but also her growth as a person.
This is the third book in a series and while it completely stands alone and you don’t need to read the other books, I fell so in love with Taylor that I can’t wait to read the other two to see where she was before France.
I love this book because while Taylor has autism and that causes some of the obstacles to her independance, it’s not really the focus of the story. Trying to break away from home while still loving your parents is a fairly universal story and delicate line to walk for every young adult. Taylor’s mom uses the autism both as part justification, part excuse for holding Taylor too close. (But not in an overbearing way-- Taylor’s mom is also trying to find that balance of wanting your children near you forever and letting them go. The autism is an added complication, but, once again, universal story.)
I'm so glad this was a Printz honor. It's such an amazing book and if it hadn't won, I would have never known about it, let alone read it.
Book Provided by... my local library
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