Modern-day readers are very fortunate. No matter what situation-ailment-predicament-life event they find themselves in, there’s a book for it. Nonfiction if they’re after factual information, fiction if they want to simply lose themselves in a story. And it’s the same for young adult readers. Almost every possible scenario has been imagined, everything from bullying to living with a mental illness. It’s not as common, however, to find a book that tells the story from the perspective of a family member. This wonderful book from Karole Cozzo does just that.
The story is told from the point of view of Jordan, a young girl living with a secret. To her it’s a terrible secret, one that’s led to embarrassment and isolation in the past. But it’s not something she can control. Her younger brother Phillip has autism, and it pretty much governs everything that goes on in her family. From family outings to alone time spent with her mom, it all revolves around Phillip and his unpredictable, ever-changing moods.
She survives by keeping a definite separation between home and school. A student at an elite school, she gets by well enough. She’s active in sports and does well enough academically. But she keeps her friends at arms-length, never letting down that boundary between the outside world and her home life. While not an ideal solution, it works for Jordyn. Until Phillip is unexpectedly and unavoidably transferred to her school. Now all her worst fears come true as the lines between home and school are crossed. And Jordyn has to confront some hard truths about herself. Is she using Phillip as an excuse to not let others into her life?
It’s hard to like Jordyn at first because she’s so hard on herself and her family. She’s embarrassed of Phillip, even to the point of pretending to not even know him. Most of us would find that inexcusable. But she’s a teenage girl, and that says a lot. Being a teen is hard enough, especially in an elite school. It’s entirely understandable to see how she’d want a little bit of normalcy, one area of her life that isn’t ruled by Phillip.
This was an outstanding story. It’s plausible and realistically written, and the descriptions of Phillip’s behavior as a person with autism ring true. It will hit home for anyone affected by autism, but will have readers of all kinds hooked until the very end.
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