“Mindblind” by Jennifer Roy
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary Fiction
Summary from Goodreads:
Fourteen-year-old Nathaniel Clark lives in two worlds—the outside world of his family and friends and his own, special, inside Aspie world, where he’s not forced to interact with people or worry about wearing his clothes right-side out. The world where he can solve mathematical problems that elude even the brightest graduate students. The world where he feels he can find his own inner truth. People say he’s a genius, but Nathaniel thinks differently. According to a book he once read, a true genius uses his talent to make a contribution to the world. Nathaniel takes the definition literally, and begins his quest for genius status. “I will start, right after I wash the chocolate off my face. If I want to be seen as a genius, I should not look like an idiot.” Nathaniel has a sky-high IQ and perfect SAT scores, but Jennifer Roy and her husband, Greg, have a remarkable 8-year-old son, Adam, who not only inspired the character of Nathaniel Clark, but also created the “Amazing Race” charts and the narrative at the back of MindBlind.
I loved the narration choice of the book. Kids with autism tend to have a rigid grasp on reality so it only makes sense for Nathaniel to file his memories like files on a computer. Every time there’s a flashback it’s prefaced with something like “Open file: C:/My Files/BradenParty_Jessa.avi (Date: 10/12/10)” It helps the reader know it’s a flashback but it also provides a glimpse in to Nathaniel’s mind.
The relationships in this book really make the book for me. Thankfully we live in a world where more and more people know about autism. People might not be sure exactly how to behave with autistic people but they at least understand a bit about it. The book highlights the typical reactions people have to autism. You’ve got the people who think the disease is a bunch of BS & think the kid should toughen up (Nathaniel’s dad), the people who know about all the ups and downs & love the person just the same (Nathaniel’s mom), the people who are oblivious to the differences (Nathaniel’s little step-brother), and the people who treat the person as normally as possible (Nathaniel’s friends). All of the relationships seem so normal and natural. I really appreciated that the author made Nathaniel as “normal” as possible. He’s a kid, not a spectacle.
The path of the story is very natural. It’s very much a coming-of-age story that shows only a snippet of Nathaniel’s life (not including tiny flashbacks). There’s not a radical change of character. It would be silly to expect that. Instead you see small little changes in Nathaniel which for him is fantastic progress.
The bottom line? I enjoyed it!