Saturday, July 16, 2016
Anything but Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin
The story is narrated by its main character--Jason Blake, a 12-year-old autistic boy who is a gifted writer. He sets out to tell his story in a way that "neurotypical" people can understand. He does a great job of it too, explaining his difficulty looking directly at people, the extreme amount of self control it takes to avoid flapping his hands when he is anxious, his hypersensitivity to smells, the way clothing or shoes feel, etc. And perhaps most important of all, he dispels the myth that just because he appears not to feel does not mean that he does not feel.
Readers get to see just how much Jason feels when it comes to his relationship with Phoenixbird. Phoenixbird is actually the username for Rebecca, a girl whom Jason comes to know through Storyboard, a website where people can post their writing and receive feedback from other members. Phoenixbird is starting to become Jason's first real friend (maybe even girlfriend) when they get the chance to actually meet at the annual Storyboard Convention.
What happens next is both uplifting and heartbreaking.
I recommend this book to older students who are open to reading realistic fiction with the power to expand their perspective on life. Like many Schneider Family Award winners, Anything but Typical reminds me that people are all unique and no one person is superior to another. We would all do well to remember that.
By Mrs. N.