~What to Say Next by Julie Buxbaum~
“There’s a famous expression that if you’ve met one person with autism, then… you’ve met one person with autism.
So you met me.
Not a diagnosis.”
David Drucker has what used to be known as Asperger’s although he does not claim the label.
David is at the bottom rung of the social ladder . Kit, on the other hand, is one of the popular crowd. When her father dies, she can’t bear to hang out in the lunchroom with her chatty regular crew and decides to sit with David, who eats his lunch all by his lonesome at a table devoid of company. A friendship ensues which eventually leads to a romance.
David is sweet, socially naive, and blunt. He carries a notebook around with him that his older sister helped him start when he first began high school. It lists things to remind him of proper social behavior, and clues to help him identify people. David, like many on the spectrum, does not easily recognize people, not to mention being totally lost socially.
The idea of David’s notebook reminded me a bit of the nonfiction book “The Journal of Best Practices” compiled by a man on the spectrum as an assistive tool to help him be a good husband. I can so see this kind of notebook being a necessary part of an aspies life to help navigate all the intricacies of day to day interaction.
Kit has her own set of issues to deal with.
I liked this book. I felt the portrayal of David was realistic, and I liked his character. There is a little bit of stereotyping by David himself when he denies his autism, even though it’s obvious he’s on the spectrum. I loved the positive relationship David had with his big sister, and the fact that he had supportive parents.
Adding to the story was a bit of a mystery about the car accident, which Kit asks David to help her solve. The answer is surprising.
David does have to deal with some serious bullying, but I felt it was realistic, considering some of the stories I’ve heard.