"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Review: The White Bicycle by Beverley Brenna


 
Last January when the Printz Awards were announced I was shocked, I mean super shocked that The Fault in Our Stars did not win a Printz Honor. All the books that did get recognized by the Printz Committee were books that reviewers on the blogosphere were talking about. All but one, this book, The White Bicycle by Beverley Brenna was a complete outlier. No one was talking about this book at all. I didn't even know it existed and it won a Printz Honor? "How dare the committee select such a book when they could have selected TFIOS," I thought. So with those thoughts swirling around in my head it has taken me almost a year before being ready to read the book, and read it with bias, mind you. In fact, I admit that I was completely ready to hate this book, that is until I actually started reading it. It still isn't my favorite book, but it certainly is a good one with a very unique narrator.
 
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!





3 comments:

  1. Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine is a nominee for the Sasquatch Award and is told from the perspective of a girl with Asperger's. It was a very interesting book.

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    1. Marie, How are things going? It doesn't look like you are still blogging or I don't know your new blog's title. You are in a library this year aren't you? How is that? Send me an e-mail.

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  2. That is good to know. I have heard many good things about Mockingbird but haven't read it?

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