Read it if….:A Two-for-One Deal

Today must be your lucky day – two reviews in the one post! You’re welcome.

Has anyone else noticed that books featuring a main character who exhibits behaviours characteristic of the Autism Spectrum are having a bit of a heyday at present?  I’ve recently read and enjoyed a number of these including The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time and The London Eye Mystery.  This past fortnight, however, I  picked up two books in this category without knowing it, and I now present to you a double Read-it-if…on the theme of fabulous diversity.

The first, Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X Stork (isn’t that a fantastic name?!), features 17 year old Marcelo facing the unsavoury prospect of having to work in the mailroom of his father’s law firm during his summer holiday.  The story chronicles the ups and downs of Marcelo’s introduction to the “real world” as he develops a friendship with Jasmine, boss of the mailroom, and makes some difficult decisions about how to act when faced with some unexpected and potentially volatile information.

marcelo in the real world

Read it if:

* you have ever actually lived, or have ever wanted to live, in a treehouse

* you suspect that some people use the term “the real world” instead of saying “things that you aren’t grown-up enough to know about yet”

*you’ve ever made a friend in an unlikely circumstance; or conversely, if you have ever trusted the wrong person

* you believe that you do not fit neatly under a label that has been applied to you, and that this is not a bad thing

This story flowed nicely and engaged me immediately – there is nothing spectacular that singles this book out as one to read above the many other titles out there, but it is certainly a solid story with sensitively drawn characters and believable scenarios.

The plot of the second book, The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion, came as an utter surprise to me because I was mistakenly under the impression (after a clearly brief reading of the blurb and a filtered glimpse at the picture on the cover) that this was to be a story about World War II.  Now although stories  set in World War II are particular favourites of mine, The Rosie Project had plenty of charm to alleviate my ever-so-slight disappointment at my own mistaken conjecturing.

Don Tillman is an associate professor of genetics at a Melbourne university who decides that in order to meet the perfect mate, he must resort to designing and distributing a questionnaire to root out any undesirable candidates and reliably lead him toward “The One”.  Enter Rosie, who Don mistakenly assumes is an eager candidate, and watch as the hijinks unfold.  The book follows the developing friendship between Don and Rosie, with chuckle-inducing results.

rosie project

Read it if:

*you have a very particular wish-list to which any aspiring love-match must conform

* you possess the ability to unintentionally amuse others by your actions or words

*you are a moderate-alcohol-consumer, non-smoker and eater of meat

*you’re looking for a nice light romantic comedy with a difference

I found this book both humorous and believeable, even though some of the situations, particularly with regard to Don’s ability to learn new skills, are beyond the bounds of reasonable expectation.  This is a good pick-up, put-down read for those days when you just want a brain break.

The interesting thing about these two books is that while they can be categorised as “Aspie” books, neither main character conforms to that particular label.  Both characters realise that they seem to be wired differently from the common herd, but Marcelo notes that his behaviours don’t fit the diagnosis, and Don is not aware that his behaviours fit the label (despite giving a memorable lecture on Asperger’s Syndrome in one scene of the book!).  In both books, the characters’ personality really drives the narrative, rather than the label of Asperger’s, which I thought worked very well.

Until next time,

Bruce

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2 thoughts on “Read it if….:A Two-for-One Deal

  1. I think that both of these look like fine books. I spend a lot of time with kids on the autism spectrum. From pre-schoolers to high schoolers. And I find them all fascinating. And the Mom Person is always reading books that are autisically related. Sometimes she reads them to me. But I tend to fall asleep without pictures. I think that she will want to look for these 2. Thanks for the lovely reviews!

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