Autism is a big word with a vast spectrum of participants and generally if Autism hasn’t touched your world you probably don’t know much about it. If it has touched your world you might not know about it to be honest. Like me. Last year I was diagnosed with High Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder, previously known as Aspergers Syndrome. At 43 this was a bit of a tilt on my axis to say the least. I had previously had no clue. I just thought I was a bit different. As you can imagine I have read a lot since realising the reality and I am always seeking out Autistic literature. The world of female autism is of course not new but it is still fairly misunderstood and a lot of women you meet who are on the spectrum won’t be obviously so. You’ll probably just think they’re a bit different, you might find that they offend you or annoy you, quite unintentionally or you might find them a little odd. The great thing about fiction is that we get to meet these people on the page and tentatively start to learn about the differences in people. That everyone is different.
And that is my mantra, obtained during counselling to help me come to terms with my new reality. Different. Not worse.
In this book Rose is a 12 year old girl. She lives with her father in America. Her mother left when she was 2. Her father gets intermittent work at a mechanics otherwise he spends a lot of time in the pub. Her Dad’s brother, her uncle, lives in the same town. Rose goes to school and has a personal teaching assistant. This year, a year when she has been held back because they don’t know what to do with her, her teacher has suggested weekly reporting about issues Rose has had (created) at school. Her Dad is not happy. As if he has time for this! Rose loves homonyms, she keeps lists of them. When one day her father brings home a lost dog she names her Rain (Reign, Rein), because it is a rare double homonym, and she was found in the rain.
Rain makes a big difference to Rose’s life. Not only is she a companion in her lonely life but when Rain follows Rose to school one day she gives the other children something to talk to Rose about. They are a bit bored on homonyms. And Prime Numbers.
Then the hurricane comes and whilst carnage ensues all around the town the main effect is the loss of Rain. Rose’s Dad let her out when he got up and now Rain is missing. Rose comes up with a plan and starts phoning all the local shelters. But finding Rain is not the end of the story. When Rose tracks Rain down to a local shelter she finds out that whilst Rain did not have a collar she was actually microchipped and her families details are recorded. The shelter must try to return her to her rightful family. Because of the storm they are struggling so they agree to let Rain go home with Rose. For the time being.
But Rose must do the right thing. Rain must go home. Rose now does everything she can to trace Rain’s chip family.
Just writing this review has me sobbing again! Rose is such a lovely straightforward Autistic character. She has a heart of gold but is a poor communicator. She finds comfort in the repetition of Prime Numbers and finding new homonyms which those around her find odd. She does the right thing. She is quite unemotional and doesn’t understand emotions. She takes things on face value and thinks literally. She is practical and logical.
This was a lovely book and it was nice to read about an autistic girl who just wants the rules followed. How hard is that?