Author: Cynthia Lord
Genre: Middle Grade, Contemporary
Length: 197 pages
Twelve-year old Catherine simply wants her life to be normal. But normal is challenging when you have an autistic brother. This summer a girl is moving in next door, so hopefully they can become friends, if her brother David doesn’t find a way to ruin it like he does for everything in her life. Catherine has created a list of rules for David so he can learn to behave normally, and just as importantly, allow Catherine not to be embarrassed.
Unexpectedly Catherine meets Jason in the waiting room of David’s speech therapist. Jason is wheelchair bound and communicates by pointing at pictures in his speech journal. What starts as drawing special word cards for Jason, so he can talk like a normal teen, leads to a special friendship. Meanwhile, Catherine is taking tentative steps towards a friendship with her new neighbor, Kristi. But when Kristi suggests that Catherine invite Jason to a dance, Catherine needs to decide what to do because she has not had the guts to tell Kristi of Jason’s special needs. And bringing a boy in a wheelchair to a dance is not exactly normal in Catherine’s eyes.
This is a book I had a hard time putting down. (The same held true for my twelve year old daughter.) The characters were so real, particularly Catherine and Jason. Nothing earth shattering occurred in the book, but I still had to know what happened next. I believe it was because Catherine’s struggle to fit in and be normal is something that so many pre-teens (and even adults) face.
The book was written in first person, which helps bring the reader into Catherine’s world. We feel her struggle as she tries to figure out what to do: the right thing or the normal thing.
I am a member of two book clubs, and we read a variety of genres. Plus, as a Young Adult author, I am constantly reading YA and MG books to improve my writing, and as a mother, I am always on the lookout for books for my children to read.
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