Have you ever heard the saying "Meet a child with autism, and you have met ONE child with autism"? This book reminds me of that saying. It is ONE child's answers on autism. It is a rare book, because that one child was a child who was non verbal. Unlike myself, who grew up with Asperger's, who was expected to intuitively know the world around me, yet I did not.
The book is written in question and answer format. In between answers, occasionally, Higashida's short stories are thrown in. The absolutely most annoying aspect of this book to me, is that questions are asked multiple times with only minor variations. Even more annoying is when different answers are given.
If you are a parent who is grasping for any understanding of what your non verbal child must be thinking, then I think that you should read this book. However, I think you should remember that it was written by ONE thirteen year old boy. Everyone's experiences and explanations are going to be different. Also, like a typical thirteen year old it is written like the author is the final authority on everything. For example, Higashida writes about how children with autism are attracted to water because of some sub-primal connection. While being way over dramatic I also completely disagree with his answer. I think children with autism are attracted to water because of the way light shines off it - I know this is why I am attracted to water. I also think that swimming can be a great sensory experience, water pressing on all aspects of the individuals body. This, to me, is a much simpler and more realistic explanation for while children with autism are attracted to water.
It is not that I disagree with anything that Higashida says in his novel The Reason I jump, it is more that I think it was a bit too dramatic. It also relates individuals with autism with the divine, and gives individuals with autism too much of an above society label. Based on my experience, both personal and professional, this is not the case. Individuals with autism, are just individuals that do not always fit the mold that society presents. I would think that a book that Higashida wrote now that he is a young adult would be much different then the one that he wrote when he was thirteen. Yet, that is one of the interesting aspects of reading this book. There are not many books on the market written by an adolescent with autism.
Mark Lawrence is an amazing short story writer. He manages to combine so much emotion and characterization in a compacted word length that the reader is left feeling like they have lived an entire lifetime, rather than just 2000 words.
During the Dance is very different than Lawrence's longer works of fiction. It is story about family, siblings, and grief. It is about the joy that one special girl give to the world in her brief time on Earth.
There seem to be two groups of readers for this book. There are those who love it, and those who do not. I am in the do not category.
From the start this book was slow. It did not capture my attention and I kept putting it down. It was the first book I started reading in January and the last that I finished. I wanted to DNF it, but I could not bring myself to do it. I own it in hardcover, and to not read it would have crushed me. That and I kept holding out that the ending got better.
The writing is ok. It is so flowery that sometimes I wanted to role my eyes. I think the author tried to find the word that was more beautiful rather than the word that would make sense. The end result was a complete disconnect from reading.
I will say that I saw each character of the novel vividly. They had their own unique personalities. They were just people I had zero desire to read about. If they were real people in my life I would cut them off. The main character - Mirage - is incompetent, self absorbed, petty, and immature. The other characters call her these things, yet, despite no redeeming value, they all listen to her and fall in love with her. She does not grow up at all. Even at the end of the book she was still the same self absorbed girl at the start of the novel. None of the side characters are any better.
Then the plot makes zero sense. The climax of the novel was off. There were pages and pages and pages of her doing nothing for the book to all end in under ten pages. There were also plot holes, and the timing within the novel was all wrong. It was not complex enough to confuse me, but it did manage to annoy me. . . a lot.
Also, why, why, why make up words for absolutely no reason. It does not add anything to the novel. Randomly replacing words with the same meaning is just trivial. It takes away from a story rather than add to it.
Finally, the world that was created around the novel could have been epic. Instead, it was thrown in at random times and never adequately explained or used to improve the novel. The idea was interesting, but since most of the information was left out it felt flat.
This site may contain affiliate links, these links refer back to products. They do not cost the consumer any additional money. They do help fund the blog. In addition, some books may be provided to the site for free in exchange for an honest review, others come from the library, others are obtained for free off Amazon, some come from my private purchase. Regardless of how the books were obtained all reviews are my honest opinion.