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’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.