I do not typically read romance novels. Yet, when I saw the synopsis of The Kiss Quotient I wanted to read it so much I skipped the library wait and bought the paper version. I was mostly drawn in by the main character. She is in her 30s, does predictive analysis, and has Asperger's. Then to top it off she is drawn to martial arts and K-drama. While my K-drama obsession is non existent my Taekwondo obsession is alive and well making this the most like me character that I have ever seen.
Which is probably why this book only received four stars instead if five. That and the plot given way to sex scenes - I did mention I don't typically read romance.
I think Helen Hoang is a great author and this is an own voices book written while the author was receiving her own diagnosis of autism. In a way it is like an exploration of what it means to be autistic.
However, as a reader with Aspergers bringing up two kids on the spectrum there are two things I did not find as realistic with the main character. The first is that everything came so dang easy to her. She was rich and she worked in a company that accepted her just as she is. Most people on the spectrum cannot just buy their way out of sensory issues. The second is that she worried about her autism too much. This may just be a me thing, but I am proud of my diagnosis. What I worry about is the actual difficulties I have - such as social communication. Stella seemed to be the exact opposite. She did not have to worry about any of the repercussions of her disorder, just the title.
Also, the way the first chapter described SAS was weird and inaccurate. While I understand and relate to Stella's geeking out of data sets the way it was described was awkward. However, as the book moved on it became less awkward. I am uncertain if this is because the descriptions themselves were less awkward or because the became more about economics, a topic I am less familiar with as I am a social scientist.
Yet, it is a romance novel and there is a reason that I typically do not read them. I would rather the pages devoted to sex be given away to plot and character development.
My review is probably a bit too analytical. I did enjoy the book. I do think the characters were distinct and developed. I also think the writing was well done. The Kiss Quotient is well deserving of the four stars and I plan on continuing to read Hoang's books. Probably in paperback since that is how I started. I just hope the next book has slightly more depth. It is so easy to turn autism into a caricature or the sole defining aspect of a person.
I saw a lot of my life in this novel. Tish Choen captured Bean, a young girl with nonverbal learning disorder (NLD), beautifully. NLD is a disorder that has a lot of similarity to Autism, but is not Autism. I will not get into the semantics (although I totally could).
I search out books whose main character's are different, and to see characters with Autism (or in this case NLD) is exciting. Everyone wants to see someone that they can relate to. Except usually I am left feeling very disappointed. There is too much stereotype and not enough characterization. Not in this novel.
I loved the characters. I loved Bean. I loved her frantic father. I loved Rachel who is too uptight for her own good. I even loved Rachel's children.
The writing is amazing. The plot is intricate and detailed - and yes there is a lot going on. The ending was enough to make me cry. I do not cry when I read - usually.
Not everyone is going to relate to this book as strongly as I do. However, even if you do not, it is still a good heartwarming book.
When it comes to Autism I have a unique perspective. I am a mother raising both a boy and girl on the spectrum. I am Autistic. I have a M.S. in Dev Psychology where I studied ASD. Coming from all three perspectives I understand that they are very different ways of approaching Autism. As an Aspie I would approach the same situation differently then I would as a parent of an aspie.
I think this is an important point to make when reviewing this book.
This book was written by a mother to a son with autism.
This mother may also, potentially, be a bit disordered. If nothing else she has a perspective and approach to life that is very different. I think that it was very brave and refreshing that she shared this part of her life with the world.
As a parent of autistic children you understand that you world is anything but normal. You share an "everyday" story about your children and you realize that your everyday is so far out of everyone else's understanding. The only people that get it are other parents of autistic children. Even adults who are autistic do not understand what it is like raising an autistic child. It is two very different perspectives. Coming from both I understand this.
The author's lamenting on her son reproducing, his ability to live independently, his over friendliness with strangers are all very legitimate concerns. As she said in her book the internet is filled with autistic individuals who would never wish for a cure, and parents who hope for one.
I think she was very fair in her representation of both "sides". I also think that she was very fair in representing autism as a spectrum disorder. However, in the end this is her story. I think the author must be a unique individual.
The writing is great. This should not be unexpected since she makes her living as a journalist. However, the structure of the book is extremely scattered. It goes from one topic to another without much reason. There is some connection with her son's ages, and some themes that seem to run through a few chapters. Mostly it seems to be more of a stream of conscious. She wrote whatever was in her head when she sat down to the computer. Overall, it still made for an interesting read. Although, some of the autism history rants could have been best be left out. She did not approach them in a very good manner. I understand why some readers would be upset. I also think that they did not read or understand that her point was about not following the dark path of the past.
This book will not teach you about autism. It will teach you about the author's personal experience with autism. This experience has value, I wish more people would tell their story - the uncensored truth.
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