Title: On the Spectrum
Author: Jennifer Gold
Rating: 4/5 stars
I received this book for review from second story press via Net Galley.
Synopsis: Growing up in the shadow of a famous mother, Clara has never felt good about her body. Now, at sixteen, she has an unhealthy obsession with healthy eating. After a social media disaster, she decides to escape for the summer to Paris to stay with her estranged dad and her six-year-old brother, Alastair, who is on the autism spectrum. Charged with his care, Clara and Alastair set out to explore the city. Paris teaches Clara about first love and gives her a new love of food. And Alastair teaches Clara about patience, trust and the beauty of loving without judgment.
Fun fact about me: I have a five year old brother who is on the autism spectrum. He was diagnosed two years ago. So when I read the synopsis of this book I was so excited! And a little nervous. But mostly excited!
‘On the spectrum’ follows Clara as she explores Paris with her six year old brother Alistair – intriguing enough in itself. However, upon reading I found it was about so much more than that! Clara herself has an eating disorder and has a strong fear of unhealthy foods. Throughout the story, Clara and Alistair help each other through their every day struggles – her with her food issues and him with his social skills and sensory processing.
The way the book described Alistair’s ASD was interesting, if a little bit textbook. Having met and now taught several students on the spectrum, I can say that no two are alike and have the same difficulties or characteristics. One thing I struggled with is the description of Alistair as ‘not autistic but on the spectrum’ which doesn’t really correlate with his actions and behaviors. My brother IS on the spectrum and IS autistic and has very similar behaviors (though his speech is much less advanced).
On a side note: the descriptions in this book of the food that they make and eat are absolutely amazing. I read about them making and eating a margarita pizza, and I had to put the book down, go to the pool bar (cos yeah, I read this in Bali!) and order myself a margarita pizza. And just hope and hope it was as good as the one in the book! (It was!)
Definitely a read I would recommend (from someone who has a slight but only very faint interest in contemporary – high praise). The book is released in September I believe!