Last week I finally got a lovely hard-bound copy of Corinne Duyvis’ book On the Edge of Gone. It was a wonderful read! I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys Young Adult and/or apocalyptic-type fiction. Honestly, even if you don’t like those genres, if you’re allistic (non-Autistic) and close to someone who’s Autistic then you would probably gain understanding from and enjoy reading this book.
That’s not the primary point of this post, but is important nonetheless 🙂
So, I’ve read several non-fiction books now from the Autistic perspective and they’ve all been amazingly helpful and insightful for me. My current favorite is The ABCs of Autism Acceptance by Max Sparrow (under the name Sparrow R Jones), which I definitely recommend, as well, to anyone who is either autistic themself or who is close to someone who’s Autistic.
But there was something so incredible about reading a fictional book with an Autistic main character who was written by an Autistic author. I’m not sure if I can adequately put these thoughts and feelings into words, but I’m going to try!
I’ve always been a voracious reader and I don’t fit the Autistic stereotype of not enjoying fictional books, although I do often prefer non-fiction depending on my mood, current interests, and what books I can access.
If I had to guess, I’d say that I’ve read at least a couple thousand chapter books and probably a good 2/3 of those have been fiction.
Yes, I’ve related somewhat to many characters over the years. More than mentioned in that linked post even. But their relatability was still incomplete and very surface in nature. Yes, some characters I’ve read about have had Autistic traits or similarities, but none were actually Autistic and written specifically as Autistic.
Reading this book was overwhelming at times.
I periodically had to set the book down for several minutes at a time in order to calm the overwhelmingness of reading about a character that was so much like me. My eyes would tear up and I’d have to stop reading for a few minutes in order to regain my composure and eyesight.
It was completely different. It was absolutely wonderful ❤
This character wasn’t just like me in some superficial ways like interests, likes, dislikes, and personality traits. She thought the way I do, she acted the way I do, and she was baffled by the behavior of the people (allistics) who surrounded her the way I often am.
She tried to do the right thing and got in trouble for it after people completely misunderstood what she was doing, which is pretty much the story of my entire life. She knew she was Autistic and it was lovely to also read examples of how she handled telling new people and their reactions to her disclosures.
As well, it was a different story than the others I’ve read that included well-intentioned mistakes in their storylines. Because it was specifically Autistic mistakes that she made. The exact same kind that I have found myself making and being baffled by over and over again throughout my life.
I love science fiction and yet hadn’t really considered some of the themes that were brought up in the book about being accepted in a small community and having to rapidly leave familiar circumstances for the unknown. I have, in the past, tended to flee small communities eventually because of misunderstandings that just seemed insurmountable.
Considering the practical interpersonal difficulties involved with potential futuristic living in a small community of any sort for any amount of time wasn’t even on my radar and this portrayal has given me a lot to think about.
I let my Autistic tween read it when I was done and they quite enjoyed it as well! I’m thrilled that I was able to share this book with my child ❤
I look forward to rereading it now that they’re done and I don’t reread many books these days. I used to reread certain books every single year, but my time has become less and less.
So, basically, I loved it and I think that others will love it too! 🙂
But really, my main takeaway from this is how important it is for more Autistic people to write books with Autistic characters.
I’ve always taken to heart what my otherwise marginalized friends have told me about the importance of reading from the *insert marginalized identity here* perspective – seeking out books by authors who are themselves Black, LGBTQ, Indigenous, etc – and now I understand the importance of this even more fully.
Representation is everything, but it needs to be accurate representation.
Accurate representation is written either by someone who shares that perspective or someone who has sought out extensive feedback from the community in question as part of their creative process.
Representation is absolutely overwhelmingly wonderful when it’s accurate.