My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I’m not usually a fan of young adult novels but On the Spectrum is one that really grabbed me and refused to let go.
Clara lives in a world where she wants for little, if anything, but her life is incredibly complicated. Clara’s mother Catherine is a famous ballerina and food, or lack thereof, has always been a central part of Clara and Catherine’s relationship. Clara soon is diagnosed with an eating disorder and Catherine tries to do everything she can to make up for sixteen years of poor parenting. Everything is thrown into disarray one night at a party when Clara is duped by a cute Yale student.
Clara finds herself in Paris, living with the father she never really knew and his passive-aggressive anti-American wife. Clara also meets her little brother, six-year-old Alastair, who is “on the spectrum.” Charged with his care over the summer, Clara is worried about how she will ever know exactly what this weird kid needs when he needs it. Despite her trepidation, Clara and Alastair have a lot to teach each other.
As a step-parent to a kid on the spectrum, I was dubious as to whether the book could really capture what it’s like to be the kid and the parent. I was thrilled to find that Jennifer Gold was spot on when it came to both Alastair’s quirks (though they were really played-up at times) and his father’s fears about his future. This book was so touching and well written. It’s definitely a must-read and I highly recommend it!