Feb. 5th, 2010

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Anything But Typical Anything But Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
When I write, I can be heard. And known.
But nobody has to look at me. Nobody has to see me at all.

Nora Raleigh Baskin’s novel, Anything but Typical, takes us into the thoughts and life of Jason, an 11-year-old boy with Autistic Spectrum Disorder. Jason understands his differences and understands what is expected of him in behavior and social interaction, yet he finds that he cannot make himself behave in those ways. Despite his many challenges, he is a prolific author who knows much about the writing process. Jason posts his stories on a Storyboard website, through which he meets and becomes friends with a girl. What will happen when his parents take him to the Storyboard Convention, where his online girl friend will be in attendance? Jason’s courage in facing the challenges of his life is inspirational on many levels.

Baskin’s attempt to portray and understand the mind of an autistic child is commendable. Her research into autistic behavior is obvious by Jason’s speech patterns and behavior. This book will be an excellent resource for readers who have had little exposure to autistic children. Her insight into the challenges of Jason’s life could help readers to gain further understanding into the reality of autism. However, for those who are familiar with autism, Jason’s behavior feels slightly cliché: his hand-flapping, hair pulling and refusal to make eye contact are so characteristic of the condition, it almost feels as if she focuses on these behaviors too heavily. Her insight into why Jason acts this way is intriguing. For children who have autistic classmates and friends, this book could be invaluable in helping them their unique behaviors and view of the world. For children who have autism, Jason’s experiences will ring familiar and help them realize they are not alone in their condition. Recommended for ages 9-11.

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