Every cloud has a silver lining… doesn’t it? Anna is thirteen years old, lives in London with her father, and has Asperger’s syndrome. When her father dies, she moves to Scotland to live with her estranged, reclusive mother. With little support to help her fit in, she must use every coping strategy her father taught her—especially her ‘Happy Game’—as she tries to connect with her mother, discover her past, and deal with the challenges of being thrown into a brand new life along the way.
You’ll notice if you visit my blog regularly this isn’t the type of book I normally review. However, the synopsis of this book intrigued me. My son was diagnosed with Asperger’s almost a year ago at the age of 8, although from the age of 3 he was showing traits of being on the Autistic Spectrum.
I’ve only read one other book where the main character has an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). I was really interested to see how it would be portrayed.
The book is told in first person from Anna’s point of view. She has lived all her life with her dad, after an accident at their flat her dad passes away. She is moved from the only life she has ever known to Scotland, to live with a mum, who hasn’t, until that point, been in her life.
This is massively traumatic for any child (Anna is 13) but having Asperger’s makes an awful situation that much worse. Anna has to draw on all the coping mechanisms she has been taught. As she finds out what really happened with her mum and dad all those years ago and secrets from the community bubble to the surface. She has to readjust her expectations and learn to navigate a whole new way of being.
I have to be honest the story itself didn’t completely grab me, but it is not my normal genre. There were a couple of continuity issues that bothered me a little. In one scene they are taking about playing a CD in the car, two pages later it is a cassette. It only happened a couple of times but I do feel that should have been picked up.
The representation of Asperger’s in this book is spot on. If you want to know how someone with Asperger’s manages day to day then you need to read this. I saw my son in so many of Anna’s behaviours.
As it is told in first person you see the world through her eyes. Anna focuses on the tiny little details most of us just pass over, it makes some sections wordy but it is exactly as it should be. Her interactions with people using scripts she has learned and trying to interpret facial expressions is something we are currently doing with my son.
There were so many relatable experiences, the social masking, the uncontrolled build of anger, coping mechanisms and the literal thinking. This last one made me smile. Anna is told that someone has skeletons in their closet and she wonders why anyone would want to keep a skeleton. We’ve had a very similar experience.
Laura has written a book that, in my opinion, really represents what it is like to live with Asperger’s. I don’t know her background but Laura must have personal experience. It was so spot on to what we, as a family, deal with day to day.
If you want to educate yourself on what it is like to live with Asperger’s, I highly recommend you pick up this book.
Many thanks to Kelly for my invite onto the tour and to the publishers for a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
Laura Guthrie grew up in the rural Scottish Highlands (“I come from where the planes don’t fly”). Her creative influences include Nessie and the elusive ‘Caiplich Beast’, as well as some choice authors and their works.
She has an honours degree in biological sciences from the University of Edinburgh, and a PhD in creative writing from the University of Glasgow.