Notes On My Family

I occasionally wonder how many books you can want to read about ‘normal’ life in a family, as seen through the eyes of someone on the autism spectrum. Will it feel too same-y? Well, I suppose it’s no different from the endless friendship stories set in schools and in the family home, spiced up with a bit of romance. They, too, are ‘all the same’ and readers still enjoy them and seek them out.

Emily Critchley, Notes On My Family

Emily Critchley’s Notes On My Family is about another slightly dysfunctional family, by which I probably mean totally normal. Except Louise sees things in a different way. And she deserves a more clued-up family. Couldn’t she at least have one parent who sees her for what she is, and who is on her side? As it is, Louise gets the weirdo treatment at school, where the other girls invite her outside to beat her up.

This doesn’t improve when her father, who is the PE teacher at school, has an affair with a sixth-form girl. But no one discovers what kind of life Louise leads, because she never complains. She merely notes down what happens as though it’s all normal and to be expected.

Her mother goes somewhat bonkers over the affair, her sister dresses up for when the fire brigade is called, and her brother hides with his own problems.

Luckily, Louise has a better set of imaginary parents, and in that life she also has a dog, and is home-schooled.

Finally Louise meets another outsider at school, who might just be friendship material. If Louise only knew how to be friends.

I don’t know what the lives of aspie teenagers are like, but I hope that reading Notes On My Family will provide a welcome sense of recognition. We’re not all crazy in the same way, but hopefully it’s possible to laugh at someone else’s mad life.

2 responses to “Notes On My Family

  1. Hi Ann,
    I came to your website via your Aspie book recommendations. You mentioned in one of your stories that your webstats increased because a swedish autism forum posted your link (or something like that). I was wondering if you could share the name of that forum. I’m living in a different country but my boyfriend is in Stockholm with a daughter that I suspect is “masking”. Her sibling has already been diagnosed with high-functioning aspergers.

    It’s so good to find book recommendations. The first book that got me started with understanding aspergers was “The Rosie Project”. It helped so much and I look forward to reading more of your recommendations. I just ordered “The State of Grace”. Do you know if it is written in Swedish, too?

    Thanks for your blog!!

  2. Hello Leah,
    The good news – which I wasn’t expecting – is that the forum is still up and running. It’s at
    Rachael’s book seems not to have been translated. Many books are not, and with Swedish youngsters able to read in English, I can see that this will have to suffice.
    I think the forum is good if either parents or children know they want help and support from others. I’m not sure it will convince someone who isn’t ready yet. And according to Asperger guru Tony Attwood, if you go into a room and shut the door on yourself, your aspie-ness disappears. It’s only a problem in company.
    I recommend books, for all the family. And talking to people. It’s surprising how many are closet aspies.
    I quite liked Clare Sainbury’s Martian in the Playground, which is about girls. Clare is an aspie herself. Once you start looking, there are now endless numbers of books, both fiction and non-fiction.
    Good luck!

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