Being in middle school is hard enough when you're busy making the transition from child to teenager. Imagine having to deal with making friends, finding a boyfriend or girlfriend, keeping up with homework assignments and your class schedule while also living with a disability like autism. You respond differently to things, you express yourself differently, you may have trouble looking people in the eye - and being different means the other kids leave you out of many things, or even pick on you. That is the experience that Nora Raleigh Baskin shares with readers in her book, Anything But Typical.
This book pulled me in so deeply that I cried over a few of the events. It's amazing how the story is told from the point of view of a middle school student who is male and has autism, even though the author is an adult female. Jason's explanation of how and why he does things helps the reader see how difficult our everyday world must be for someone who processes things differently. Even the simplest things like how clothes feel against your skin or the noise of a large public place can be a problem.
I think this book takes the reader for a walk in Jason's shoes and lets us see through his eyes. When you reach the end of the story, you will probably be more open-minded and understanding of how difficult it is to live in a society where you are not "typical". It reminded me of the book Wonder by RJ Palacio in the way it puts you inside the head of someone that is "anything but typical" and lets you see the world through their eyes.
Anything But Typical won the Schneider family Book Award in 2010. The American Library Association says, "The Schneider Family Book Awards honor an author or illustrator for a book that embodies an artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences." You can find more information about the award and past winners on its homepage. The publisher's website has videos of the author talking about the book. She also has her own website, if you would like to learn more about her or her other books. We have 2 copies of the book in the library.