Being Noah

WordFire Pr. Aug. 2020. 159p. Tr $24.99. ISBN 9781680570830.
Gr 3-7–Ten-year-old Noah has a gift, although no one believes him. They’re too concerned for Noah’s brother, 12-year-old Sean. Sean is on the autism spectrum. Whenever anything happens that might upset Sean—sudden loud noises, a storm, losing a game—everyone is concerned about him. They don’t consider that Noah also needs attention. He needs his family to believe that he can see things before they happen. He can also sometimes communicate with animals or inanimate objects. He tries to warn people before things happen, but they only believe in coincidence. It causes Noah to sometimes resent Sean, but also it brings him pain and loneliness. Why can’t his family believe him? Even his closest friends think he’s just weird. Being small doesn’t help with the bullying he faces at school either. Spending summers with his grandmother at her horse ranch gives Noah the opportunity to escape some of the torment he faces at school. His ability to hear and respond to his horse and the beauty of the ranch make him feel needed, and his grandmother truly tries to understand his spiritual connection to the natural world. When Noah’s friend becomes ill, Noah alerts his family to the severity of his friend’s illness. Others are forced to accept that Noah may be gifted after all. Hardy writes an engaging story that weaves family, disability, and spirituality into a thoughtful narrative. Noah’s ability is not treated as fantasy, but Hardy presents it as a gift, one that can be best utilized by helping others. The realistic depiction of his brother’s disability and his parent’s struggles also add to the genuine feel of the story.
VERDICT A thoughtful book that is well-paced and includes enough realism to balance the mystical and spiritual content. A great book for introspection and discussion after reading.

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