5 / 5 Stars
Sassy, self-assured and compelling to read- I loved it!
I was intrigued to read this book, as I'd heard it had been nominated for quite a few awards. However, beyond that, I didn't really know much about it, only that it focused on a girl called Lou who was on the autistic spectrum.
I wasn't really prepared for such a lively, lighthearted (yet sometimes sad!) book about a dysfunctional family, all told from the perspective of a girl who yes, is undeniably autistic, but not defined at all by her condition.
Lou lives with her mother and father, and her brother Mikey and sister Sarah (and let's not forget Hammy, the hilarious escapee hamster). The perfect family set-up, you'd think; until her father announces that he's having an affair with an 18 year old girl. Cue much chaos and upheaval, including a shoplifting incident (the mother), hospital (the mother again) and bullying at school.
However, Lou never seems to let it get her down, though the bullying scenes are genuinely affecting. Her new best buddy, the 'goth girl' Faith, is just the tonic she needs to get through it all, though their friendship isn't entirely smooth-running either...
This is a young adult book; however, as a thirty-something year old woman, I enjoyed it a lot. I am so glad to see autism represented in a positive light; so many books focus on presenting these conditions in terms of how 'problematic' they are or how much the person suffers as a result. Lou is a fully rounded, feisty, switched-on kind of girl who just happens to have autism. Which is a great portrayal - and may well help others to understand the condition a little better.
I also liked the wry humour throughout; it really lifts the book and makes it very relateable. Overall, it's a great read (I'll be passing it on to my 13 year old niece when I next see her!)