Anything But Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin

If you are fascinated with venturing inside another person's head and discovering how they perceive the world, then this is your book.

It is narrated by Jason, a 12 year old autistic boy. Very few things go right for him. In fact, he starts out each day wondering when something will go wrong. It is always just a matter of time.

His only comfort and peace come when he is writing. He knows a lot about story telling and is good at it. Through an online writers' forum he meets a girl. She might just be his first real friend, never mind a girlfriend. When he is offered the opportunity to go to a conference where he might meet her, he is terrified. He knows that when she finds out more about him, she will have nothing to do with him. 

Jason's perspective reveals loving compassionate parents. He and Jeremy, his little brother, have the finest sibling relationship I have seen portrayed in children's literature. Because I am a parent, while reading the sections on Jason's interactions with his mother and father, I often wondered whose lot was more difficult, Jason's or his parents. 

I've read other books with autistic characters: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night by Rules by Cynthia Lord, Marcelo in the Real World by , Emma Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree by Lauren Tarshis, and Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko to name a few. They are great books, but none of them helped me realize, at such a deep level, what living inside an autistic brain and body could be like until this one. Not only is it profound in that it took me into the experience of being Jason, it also led me into a contemplation of the social interactions I have with other neurotypicals (NT's) like myself. He helped me understand that we have much more in common with Jason than expected. 

I am thankful to Jason for forcing me to examine what it means to be who I am, and to ask myself some hard questions.

Would I transform myself if given the opportunity?  

Why do we expect others to do this?

How can we make space in our world for everyone?

I recommend this book to teachers as a read aloud.  Not only will everyone learn a lot about autism, they are sure to pick up a few nuggets about writing as well.

Thank you Nora Raleigh Baskin.

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