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.
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.
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