“He looked at the note. Writing it had taken an eternity, and by all rights the words should have transformed into poetry somehow.” p. 284
The Real Boy by Anne Ursu, illustrated by Erin McGuire.
Walden Pond Press Imprint, HarperCollins, New York, 2013.
MG fantasy, 341 pages.
Lexile: 730L .
AR Level: 4.9 (worth 10.0 points) .
Oscar is content to mix up packages, serve the most powerful magician in the Barrow, avoid the cruel apprentice, and ignore the existence of the city of Asteri and the wealthy patrons who come to seek the magic his master makes. His world is orderly and known, his thoughts consumed with plants and trees and cats. Until disaster strikes and upends his life.
“For now, both teenagers are just taking the bus home from school. Surely it’s not too late to stop things from going wrong. There must be some way to wake Sasha. Divert Richard. Get the driver to stop the bus. There must be something you can do.” p. 5
The 57 Bus: A True Story of Two Teenagers and the Crime that Changed Their Lives by Dashka Slater.
Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers, New York, 2017.
YA nonfiction/true crime, 305 pages.
Lexile: 930L .
AR Level: 6.5 (worth 8.0 points) .
In November 2013, two teens were on the same bus for just eight minutes. Agender senior Sasha fell asleep on the long ride home from fir small private school. Sixteen-year-old Richard was joking with friends as he left his large public school. Then Richard held a lighter to Sasha’s skirt, forever changing the course of both their lives.
This unique, well-written exploration of one particular incident evokes much more. Richard’s struggling (but loving) young mother took in two nieces after her sister was murdered. He grew up in a rough neighborhood, where 4 of his close friends and family members had been murdered before he was 16, and he was mugged at gunpoint only a week before the fire. And Richard was African-American, possibly ADHD, and definitely traumatized. He spent time in a group home because of fights before, but didn’t start them – he was a follower.
Sasha is white, middle class, an only child who had struggled with fitting in before – autistic and agender, with a major passion for public transport. Fi is shy, so fir parents were surprised when fi started wearing skirts. However, they took great joy in seeing the child a psychiatrist told them to lower their hopes for blossoming into a confident, thoughtful teen.
“My good hand flaps against my thigh as we walk. I keep my eyes averted all the way, like if I don’t see other people, they might not see me.” p 57
On the Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis.
Amulet Books Imprint, Abrams, New York, 2016.
YA apocalyptic science fiction, 456 pages.
Lexile: HL640L (What does HL mean in Lexile?)
AR Level: Not yet leveled.
Teen Denise just wanted to work in the cat shelter and make it through her daily life. But then they found out about the comet. Since then, she’s been trying to figure out how to survive the apocalypse – and bring her family with her. But it isn’t easy. Her sister is missing, her addict mom is running so late they can’t get to the shelter, and her autism makes all these changes even more confusing and distressing.
“There is something exciting and reassuring for individuals on the autistic spectrum about communicating with other people over the internet.” page 142
Born On a Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant by Daniel Tammet.
Simon and Schuster, New York, 2006. Originally published in Great Britain.
Adult memoir, 226 pages.
New York Times bestseller.
Lexile: 1170L .
AR Level: 7.9 (worth 13.0 points) .
Daniel Tammet is an unusual and extraordinary individual. He is a savant, has multiple forms of synesthesia, is autistic, and can speak ten languages, one of which (Icelandic) he learned in a week.
“it may be a good idea to practice the art of disclosure which has allowed me to reduce fear in my community. ” page 61
Getting a Life with Asperger’s: Lessons Learned on the Bumpy Road to Adulthood by Jesse A. Saperstein.
Perigee, Penguin Random House, New York, 2014.
YA/new adult self-help, 220 pages including resources.
This is a self-help/life advice book specifically aimed at helping the autistic teen or young adult lead a productive and satisfying life. The author uses examples from his own life and that of others he knows as well as general practical advice.
This was a dollar store find from a while ago. I have a general interest in autism, so I bought this although I’m quite far from the target audience. While this is not a book I will keep, it could have a great deal of value to the intended audience.
“Everybody laughs. Especially the ones who don’t do it out loud; they do it the loudest.” p. 186
A Wizard Alone by Diane Duane.
Magic Carpet Books, Harcourt, my edition 2003, first published in 2002.
Middle grade fantasy, 320 pages + excerpt.
AR Level: 5.8 (worth 13.0 points)
NOTE: This is the 6th book in the Young Wizards series.
“Becoming a wizard isn’t easy. In fact, it can kill you.
All first-time wizards must go through an initiation in magic called an Ordeal. Most last only a few days. So why has Darryl McAllister been on Ordeal for three months?
Or has he? Darryl hadn’t actually gone anywhere. His body is still here; it’s his mind that seems to have departed. And that’s where Kit and Nita come in. Only together can they unravel the mysteries around Darryl – who he is, what he is, and why the source of all death in the universe, the Lone Power, is desperately trying to destroy him.” -back cover blurb
Even that is a little spoilery, but better than the synopsis you will find on most popular websites (including the two linked above), which give major spoilers. Unfortunately, this review will also be somewhat spoilery since this is the sixth book in a series. Discussing this book will give away some plot elements from the first five books.
I last read these these books many years ago and had forgotten that one of the two main characters is Latino. The other might be Latina (her given name is Juanita, her father is Irish-American but I don’t think her mother’s background is specified). When younger, I only cared about female characters. Although the two have very equal parts, I inaccurately recalled Kit Rodriguez as a sidekick to Nita Callahan and her younger sister Dairine.
Most of this review will be have spoilers for either the book or the series, but be sure to scroll down to the non-spoiler end…