Thursday, September 9, 2010

Not Neurotypical: Not Stereotypical, Either

When my first son was diagnosed, I went looking for fiction about kids like mine. I didn't find many. I respect the authors who made the effort to get something out there, but there just weren't that many options. 

That is absolutely changing. Last year, Francisco X. Stork's Marcelo in the Real World cracked a lot of readers' worlds wide open and showed them something new and beautiful.

This year, there are three debut authors bringing us three new "not-neurotypical" voices. What I love the most about this development is that each and every one of these books is about an individual--a distinct person who has talents and dedication and people who love them. So, here they are...

The Reinvention of Edison Thomas by Jacqueline Houtman  

"Eddy Thomas can read a college physics book, but he can’t read the emotions on the faces of his classmates at Drayton Middle School. He can spend hours tinkering with an invention, but he can’t stand more than a few minutes in a noisy crowd, like the crowd at the science fair, which Eddy fails to win.

When the local school crossing guard is laid off, Eddy is haunted by thoughts of the potentially disastrous consequences and invents a traffic-calming device, using parts he has scavenged from discarded machines. Eddy also discovers new friends, who appreciate his abilities and respect his unique view of the world. They help Eddy realize that his “friend,” Mitch is the person behind the progressively more distressing things that happen to Eddy. By trusting his real friends and accepting their help, Eddy uses his talents to help others and rethinks his purely mechanical definition of success."

"Go ahead. Look through the windows of any house in Nabor. It won't take you more than a couple of blocks to find Livvie Owen's name witten on a wall. Thats because Livvie, who has autism, has gotten the Owens evicted form overe twenty homes in the town of Nabor. Of course her family doesn't say it's her fault. But Livvie can sense it in the stares of the landlords and her growing isolation from her family. The options now are few: move out of town or convince a landlord who knows about Livvie’s destructive behavior to take a chance anyway.

But Livvie, who sees a lot of things her family doesn’t, spies another option hidden in the rubble of their past. The Sun House stands empty on the edge of town, abandoned after the Owens lost it to the bank. There’s a sign on the front porch, and Livvie, who doesn’t read, is convinced the sign says “For Rent.” Can Livvie control her behavior and convince her family to take a chance on staying in Nabor? More importantly, can she convince them to take one last chance on her? In her efforts to reclaim a doomed house, Livvie will challenge her parents’ frustration, her sisters’ anger – and her own ideas about what makes a house a home."

"Doctors have pinned 16-year-old Drea with everything from ADHD to Asperger's Syndrome. She has an obsession with sound design, a tendency to blurt out whatever she's thinking, and a problem making friends, but likes to think of this as following her own rhythm in a confusing world.
Having just moved to the latest in a string of new towns, Drea is hesitant to befriend purple-haired Naomi, her teenage neighbor with a kamikaze personality. But Naomi is the first person to treat her like she isn't a world class dork. Then there's Justin, the sexy and persistent boy in her film class. If she's learned anything from her mom, it's that boys are trouble.
When Drea discovers Naomi's love for drums and Justin's piano prodigy status, the three form a trip-hop band and a friendship that will challenge everything Drea thought she knew about herself and the world around her.
But just when she's found not one but two true friends, can she stand to lose one of them?"

Finally, I'd like to recommend a movie to you My Name is Khan.  Here is the trailer. I watched this film with my son. I'd like to know what you think of it.

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