Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Book Review: On the Spectrum

Title: On the Spectrum

Author: Jennifer Gold

Genre: Contemporary Teen

Rating: 4 out of 5

There's one thing this book definitely is, highly readable. It was a very quick read for me and while not everything is perfect in it; some plot points are a bit contrived to set-up scenarios, I can't deny that I ate it up in two sittings without any thoughts of wanting to put it down. This is unusual for me with a contemporary teen book. Kudos to a Jennifer Gold and her writing style! 

I loved our 'on the spectrum but not autistic' little guy Alastair. He said things I've heard from a little guy I used to babysit, who is autistic in real life. The perfect example was his comment about not having 'cold feet' when he was afraid to ride the Ferris Wheel at the last minute. Autism kids don't understand much that isn't literal. By far Alastair was the star of the book for me. 

Our mail gal, Clara, has an eating disorder I'd not heard of before. And for this reason if nothing else this book deserves a spot on library shelves! Orthorexia, a disease where you're obsessed with counting calories, exercising and how 'healthy' food is. Very interesting. One criticism I have is is liked to better understand the difference between anorexia and orthorexia.  

There are many moments in this book that many readers may connect with. For me it's when when Alastair says: 

"I'm on the autism spectrum, but I'm not autistic. You're on the eating disorder spectrum."

This really struck me personally in regards to my own mental health. If you're not willing to accept you have a disease, in my case anxiety, that's okay but at least start to accept that you are 'on the spectrum'. A clever way to perhaps speak to those who don't quite see their predicament in a hard hitting way or can't accept any part of what is being said about them. 

Lastly I'd like to give a copy of this book to all overprotective, my kid is special, parents. Our author, Jennifer Gold, really drives home the very real reality that you need to set your kids up for success. Don't baby them, don't buy them dumb looking shoes unless they absolutely medically need them. Superman backpacks and glow-in-the-dark running shoes are definitely going to make your child a less likely bullying target. If you want to help your kids with bullying situations a the first step can be to change the things that are easily changed. Ie: shoes, clothes, haircuts, etc. While we don't want to teach kids vanity and to try too hard to fit in; there is a balance here that is crucial for parents to find between 'my kid is picked on because he's uncool' and 'my kid is picked on because his clothes are uncool'. I have often wondered if I'd have a bit of an easier time in elementary school if I'd have had more than hand-me-downs for clothes. 

Overall I think this book is well written as it's engaging, cute, funny at times and clever. But it's not five stars because of two major reasons: 

1) Guidance Counsellors rarely call social services over eating disorders. Generally this action is reserved for physical abuse;

2) Real life can often seem to rain down awful events; but three major happenings in a 12 hour period seemed like a bit much. However I cannot deny that it made for a quick read that was concise and to the point. For me this trumps the plot probability issue. 

I definitely look forward to more from Gold in the future. 

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from qthe publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.


Robin in Virginia said...

Thanks for the heads up about this book, Mel! I am going to add it to my list to read.

Leonore Winterer said...

Another interesting book for my list! I think I agree with you about the bullying...I was also that kid that wore 'uncool' clothes and there was also a situation about using a trolley instead of a backback because me grandparents thought it was better for my back...and while those experiences helped me get stronger and just ignore certain remarks, sometimes it would have been nice to just have an easy and fun childhood instead of the constant fight. As you said, it's about finding a balance.

Vickie said...

This is going in my TBR plile! Thanks for the review