A Fictional Look at Autism
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This book tells the story of Annika (rhymes with Monica) Rose and Jonathon Hoffman. In its simplest form this is what happens: they meet in college, fall in love, experience a major mishap that causes them to break up, then bump into each other ten years later, and try to work things out.
It’s not a very original plot, but when I put some meat on those bare bones of a storyline, you will see why it is worth your time. Annika “fits the criteria for someone who has an autism-spectrum disorder.” This diagnosis does not come until late in the book, but readers assume it from the get go. Most of the chapters are told in the first person from Annika’s point of view, so we know exactly what she is thinking as she struggles with every single social interaction she encounters. Frankly, it’s intriguing to learn what it’s like inside of her head.
Annika is not the only narrator in the book. Jonathan has some chapters too. Much of the book takes place in 1991 when they meet and fall in love at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne. Other chapters take place when they meet again in Chicago in 2001.
I am not inclined to like a book where a couple breaks up and gets back together ten years later. I am skeptical that such a love story can have a happy ending, because really, what has changed? However, in this book, the author allows both of the main characters – but especially Annika – to grow dramatically during the ten years they are apart. Note please, both change to become his/her best self not to please the other.
The ending of the book took me completely by surprise, but it was a perfect way for the author to prove not only how much Annika had grown, but also to prove what a great chance they had for happily ever after.
If you are like me and believe in moving forward, not back; if you have, “Forward march!” as one of your personal mottos; put those silly notions aside as you root for Annika and Jonathan!
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