Monday, November 22, 2010

Nora Raleigh Baskin. ANYTHING BUT TYPICAL

Jason Blake is an autistic twelve-year-old in 6th grade. School is a struggle, to say the least. It's not the work. Dealing with people in a socially acceptable way is a challenge for Jason. For the previous few years, he had an aide with him all day. She was always there as a sort of translator to help him know how to deal with people. She would remind him of little things like looking people in the eye when talking and to answer when spoken to. People expect him to behave the way everyone else does.

Even though Jason has trouble interacting in person, he's a wonderful writer. He writes stories on an online community called Storyboard. He gets positive feedback on his writing. He even makes a friend. When he writes, he doesn't have to worry about any of the in-person struggles he as with reading facial expressions, looking in someone eyes, determining tone of voice, etc.

His parents surprise him with tickets to the Storyboard writing conference. His excitement is short-lived, though. As soon as he hears that his friend will also be attending, he worries about attending at all.  He's afraid of exposing himself completely. If she sees what he's really like, will she still want to be his friend? If the meeting is anything like his previous interactions and friendship attempts, it's doomed. Will she be different. Should he try to be different?

I loved this book! Nora Raleigh Baskin is a genius. She's woven so many fantastic threads together to form a brilliant story. You can feel how Jason is trapped by his situation - not being able to act sometimes, even when he knows he must. But through his fictional stories, you also feel his need to stand up for himself as the person he was born to be and not necessarily conform.

You will come away with a deeper understanding and appreciation for what it's like for kids who see the world differently. I also think that kids from grade 4th all the way through high school would love this book. Because of the richness in character and story, different age groups will glean different levels of beauty and insight.

It's an unforgettable book. Trust me.
Check out the author's website here.

I put both the hardcover picture & the paperback, because I like them both. I think they both fit in their own way.