Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Anything But Typical (MG)

Baskin, Nora Raleigh. 2009. Anything But Typical. Simon & Schuster. 195 pages.

Most people like to talk in their own language.
They strongly prefer it. They so strongly prefer it that when they go to a foreign country they just talk louder, maybe slower, because they think they will be better understood. But more than talking in their own language, people like to hear things in a way they are most comfortable. The way they are used to. The way they can most easily relate to, as if that makes it more real. So I will try to tell this story in that way.
And I will tell this story in first person.
I not he. Me not him. Mine not his.
In a neurotypical way.
I will try--
To tell my story in their language, in your language.

I am Jason Blake.

I loved Jason Blake. I didn't just love him. I love, love, loved him. He was such a great narrator. I really felt an instant connection with him, with his story. (And I think that you will too!)

From the start I knew we would get along:

When I write, I can be heard. And known.
But nobody has to look at me. Nobody has to see me at all. (3)

If that doesn't describe me, I don't know what does. (Not that this is about me. It isn't.) The book is about a boy--labeled many things, but generally referred to as autistic--and his journey to self-acceptance. It's about his life--his home life, his family relationships, his school, etc. While real-life friendships are a bit of a struggle, he loves to be online. He loves to be part of a community. He loves to write stories and interact with others through forums, emails, etc. He's currently working on a story about a dwarf named Bennu. Chapter twelve is pretty amazing:

This night I am writing a new story to post on Storyboard. The whole idea came to me on the car ride home from Uncle Bobby's. It is about a dwarf--not a midget, because dwarfs do not like to be called midgets, even though there was a time when "dwarf" was the bad word, and "midget" was better.
But now it's the complete opposite.
Titles. Names. More words, the same twenty-six letters strung together that sometimes hurt someone and sometimes don't. (75)

Names are very important when writing a story. (76)

Some people, like teachers and librarians and other adults, like to say that names are not important.
Like sticks and stones.
But they are wrong.
Every word you choose means something you think it means, and more.
Like if a person is different, that is a good thing.
But if they have a defect, that is not.
Letters. (77)
One day his parents surprise him. He can go to the Storyboard writing convention. He can attend all these sessions. The problem? He doesn't want to meet his online friend, Rebecca, in real life. He's afraid--terrified--that she will judge him if she sees him.

This is a beautiful novel. The writing is just amazing. It has this oh-so-right feel to it. Almost poetic in a way. It also feels authentic and sincere. I really connected with Jason's character immediately. I lost myself in his story, his voice. It just felt so good to spend time with him. He felt so real, so vulnerably (but lovably) real. I thought the whole thing was really well done. The writing. The characters. The story.

I'd definitely recommend this one to anyone. It is releasing in paperback in March 2010. (Or it's available now in hardback.)

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


She said...

I love it when you can connect and love a character like that!

Sweet cover, too.

Kailana said...

This sounds really good! I will add it to my wish list. :)

Suko said...

Great review, Becky. By great I mean I read it easily and connected to it. Anything But Typical sounds like a book I'd enjoy and possibly love also.

Stephanie said...

I don't think I've heard of this one before, but now I'll keep an eye out for it. Thanks for a great review! :)

Melissa said...

I have this in my pile from the library and am so glad to hear that you liked it so much. Great review!