A Different Kind of Normal: My Real-Life COMPLETELY True Story About Being Unique

Crown. Oct. 2022. 240p. Tr $22.99. ISBN 9780593566459.
Gr 4-8– Albert Einstein, Emily Dickinson, and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart were likely autistic. Greta Thunberg, Elon Musk, and the author of this book are very much on the spectrum. Diagnosed in her thirties, the British-born author/illustrator takes readers on a heartfelt and hilarious journey growing up autistic. Celebrating neurodiversity, the book covers typical topics including school, bullying, social relationships, and family interaction. However, it’s the addressing of seldom discussed issues such as puberty, imposter syndrome, and gender identity that sets this book apart. The author stresses the complexities represented in all forms of neurodiversity, challenging the assumption that boys are more typically associated with autistic behaviors. The unique format paired with the conversational narrative tone, perfect cartoon-like illustrations, bulleted lists, and sidebars make this a compelling and easy read. A string of footnotes takes on the tone of a running gag; but these short asides often give readers the most pause and prompt deep introspection. Back material includes acknowledgments, support resources, and a helpful glossary that also serves as an index.
VERDICT Heartfelt and insightful, this remarkable book has the potential to be life-changing, not only for autistic adolescents, but also for the people who care for them. Highly recommended.

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