Taylor Jane Simon is a nineteen-year-old girl with Asperger's Syndrome. She travels to France with her mother to be a personal assistant to a boy with cerebral palsy. She wants the job so that she can add a reference to her resume so, when she goes back to Canada at the end of the summer, she can get a real job and eventually gain her independence from her parents.
I know. That description makes the book sound really boring. But what is very interesting about the book is how authentic it feels. The author, Beverley Breanna, got the voice of Taylor just right. As I read her thoughts and her dialogue with other characters I was instantly reminded of students who also have Asperger's Syndrome. The book is also insightful and instructive about what a person with Asperger's has to struggle with every day to cope in a world where people think so differently than they do. For example, Taylor's counselor helped her learn some coping strategies such has moving her anger down to her toes where it wasn't likely to hurt anyone. When she got angry every thing turns white and people lose all their vowels so it is difficult to listen anymore.
Just today I checked out a book to a boy with Asperger's syndrome. The book was about knots and knot-tying. I made a little aside comment that I hoped he would come in and show me how to tie a knot when he was done reading it. He got this horrified look on his face. Not long after that the book was in the book drop. Poor guy. He was probably horrified to think about the prospect of "having" to show me how to tie a special knot, taking me at my word (like Amelia Bedilia) not at the twinkle in my eye. The White Bicycle is a good reminder that there are students/people out there who really do have to struggle with communication and need our help and understanding.
The cover, which I also disliked until I learned about its artist, was designed by a man with Asperger's Syndrome who uses art to help explain his condition.
A White Bicycle is a quick read at just over 200 pages. I think it is worth the time. Give it a try!