on Dreams by Herb Heiman
This book tells
the story of Justin, a 15-year-old boy with autism who
is starting his first semester in a mainstream school,
and Brad, the school track star, all-around "cool
guy," and Justin's assigned "buddy." In
Running on Dreams, these two middle-school boys are tossed
together in a story of teenage angst, confusion, and friendship.
For adolescents with autism and their neurotypical peers
alike, the book is written from both Justin's and Brad's
perspectives as they struggle to understand each other
Jay Grows an Alien by Caroline Levine
Jay often feels
out of place in the world around him, but doesn't know
why. Being called names like "space cadet" and
"asp-booger" confuses him even further. He has
looked up "asp" in the dictionary and knows
he is not an asp, a "small poisonous snake from Egypt."
But what is he then? Caroline Levine's short novel, Jay
Grows an Alien, follows Jay, a young boy with Asperger
Syndrome, at school and home. Over the course of the novel,
as he deals with bullies, faces the difficulties of a
sibling relationship, and befriends a cyborg from outer
space, Jay begins to find his place and comes to understand
that differences in him and others are unique and special.
Whole Wyoming by Joan Clark
Tyler is confused
when he is selected by his entire fifth-grade class to
present a going-away gift to Jackson, a classmate who
is moving out of town. The agonizing dilemma is that while
Tyler likes Jackson, he is a little embarrassed to admit
it, and is worried about being "lumped together"
with Jackson, whom many of the other students view as
a bit "strange." The truth of the matter is
that Jackson has Asperger Syndrome, which explains his
sometimes bizarre behavior and lack of social skills.
In the end, Tyler's kind nature prevails and he does a
wonderful job of presenting a class book to the departing
Jackson. This heart-warming and often humorous book paints
a realistic picture of the ups and downs in the life of
a fifth-grader and, more important, of a young boy with
Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
a novel by Mark Haddon
For 15 year
old Christopher Boone, the hero of this year's most
unusual mystery novel, the entire world is a mystery.
Christopher is autistic. He can't understand ordinary
jokes. He can't read other people's facial expressions.
When people touch him, he panics and screams. So when
he stumbles on the corpse of his neighbor's dog Wellington
impaled on a garden fork, it's just one more mystery
that needs solving. "In a murder mystery novel,"
the young man tells us, with his permanently straight
face, "someone has to work out who the murderer
is and then catch them. It is a puzzle." Indeed.
Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon
The book, The
Speed of Dark, tells the fictional story of an autistic
man, Lou, in the near future. This story, told from Lous'
point of view, is a tale of Lou's struggle of trying to
understand "normal" people. The author insightfully
explores the nature of "normality," identity,
choice, responsibility, free will, illness and health,
and good and evil.