Book Review by Aarene Storms: Anything But Typical

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Anything But Typical
by Nora Raleigh Baskin

12-year-old Jason Black isn't dumb. Since his diagnosis with autism when he was four years old, Jason has been coached by counselors, teachers, doctors, assistants, and members of his family, all in an effort to help Jason seem more normal to neurotypical people.

Most days, it's just a matter of time before something goes wrong.

Maybe somebody is already logged into the computer he prefers at the school library. Maybe a teacher touches his shoulder when she talks to him. Maybe he gets so lost in his own thoughts that he tears the first page of his math book into many tiny pieces.

No matter what, Jason does not fit in. He does not understand why neurotypical people behave the way they do, and nobody understands why he acts as he does.

The only place he is really comfortable is on the Storyboard writing website. He posts his original fiction there, and interacts with other writers, especially PhoenixBird, whom he considers kind of a girlfriend although they've never met in person.

Jason explains to readers that trying to explain his actions is like trying to speak in a non-native language: the story often conveys the sense that Jason's thoughts have lost something in translation.

Thought-provoking and intriguing, this book would be a good discussion-starter in classrooms and reading circles. A reading group guide is included at the end.

Recommended for readers ages 10-15.

The events may not have happened; still, the story is true.  --R. Silvern

Aarene Storms, youth services librarian
Richmond Beach and Lake Forest Park Libraries, KCLS


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