For all that there are moments when Rose’s voice is nuanced and shines, those nuances continuously pushed aside for a far more stereotypical narrative. This is not the story of an autistic character written for an inclusive audience; this is a story about an autistic character written for a neurotypical audience.
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The book ultimately provides a single-faceted understanding of autism and many of the painful interactions with Willem’s teacher and peers would likely hit too close to home for autistic students.
I truly wanted to love this book—especially as it features one of the very few textually autistic characters written by an autistic author. In the end, though, I was left with mixed-to-negative feelings and a lot of disappointment.
Tommy Smythe disappears one Friday night, and even after weeks of searching he can’t be found. This is the story of a rural community’s search for Tommy, and the complicated social networks created by wrongdoings and secrets in a small town.
What I love most about Kiara—and the novel itself—is that she is unflinchingly genuine. Sooner or later, most Aspie characters written by neurotypicals eventually become caricatures. Having an Autistic character written by an actual Aspie makes all the difference.