Saturday, October 20, 2012
Number of Pages: 224
Reading Level: 4th grade and up
Reading Time: 2 days
Chew with your mouth closed.
If someone says "hi," you say "hi" back.
Not everything worth keeping has to be useful.
Sometimes people laugh when they like you. But sometimes they laugh to hurt you.
These are all rules that Catherine has written down for her little brother, David, who has autism. She loves her brother dearly, but sometimes she wishes he could just be normal.
As the summer starts out, Catherine makes two new potential friends. There's Kristi, the new girl who moved in next door, and Jason, the boy she sees at Occupational Therapy with David. Jason is in a wheelchair, and can't talk, so he uses cards with pictures and words on them to communicate.
Catherine, living in a world that most people will never fully understand, wrestles with how much she loves her brother and how she's embarrassed of him at the same time. She is frustrated that, in her family, it always has to be about David, never about her. And most of all, she asks herself the question: What is normal?
This book was phenomenal. As a girl who has two little siblings with special needs, one with autism, Catherine's story really resonated with me. I've felt the frustration that Catherine has felt in David never being "normal." I've experienced everyone getting invited except us. I've had times when I felt it was all about my little brother and nobody thought that I mattered. This is a brilliant book to read for anyone who knows someone with special needs or knows someone who has a family member with special needs. It gives you this tremendous sense of not being alone.
I would also recommend this book to people who have had little or no contact with special needs. Sometimes people do things as jokes or say things in passing that hurt. Maybe they didn't mean to be mean or hurtful, but they were. This book gives you a glimpse into what a family member of someone with special needs goes through and feels when someone, knowingly or unknowingly, insults their sibling or child.
This was a beautiful, touching book. One that I would say everyone needs to read.
A Note to Parents:
I found nothing remotely inappropriate in this book. In fact, I would say make your kids read it.