It is – or ought to be – a well known fact that girls ‘hide’ their autism rather more successfully than boys do. This new book, The State of Grace, is about one such struggling girl, and as Rachael Lucas who wrote it is on the spectrum herself and also has a daughter with Asperger Syndrome, you can be sure she will get it right. Well, one right of many.
The story about 16-year-old Grace is full of neurotypical thoughts and behaviours. More than I’d have expected. But then, that is one kind of reality among many different kinds of aspie realities. It’s just not mine.
Grace has a younger sister who is very ‘normal’ and a mother who is pretty perfect as the mother of an aspie, standing up for her girl at school and knowing what she needs. That is, until she seems to stop being like that. Grace’s father is working away and no doubt it is tough for his wife, but I found the sudden change in parental support rather hard to deal with. As did Grace.
There is an almost too good to be true best friend for Grace, and when the two girls attend a birthday party it is just as difficult for Grace to cope with as you’d expect, but she also ends up kissing the most fanciable boy at their school, and is no stranger to giving her friend a full account of what happened.
But this is me nit-picking. When life gets tough, Grace escapes off to her horse Mabel, and she makes quite a few stupid decisions. One is working out how to be a popular girl and setting in motion some less well thought out ideas.
I’d like to think that in ‘real’ life Grace’s mother would have come to her senses sooner, and maybe the romantic interest wouldn’t have been the most good-looking boy around. But this is a fun story, it has lots of situations other aspies should be able to recognise, and there is a learning curve for all the characters.
We need more aspie books, and more girl aspie books, and especially ones like this one where it’s not all computers and robotic behaviour. And you just can’t go wrong with a Doctor Who t-shirt.