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.
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.
Like in real life, autism spectrum disorder alone is never the whole story, and Baskin does a good job balancing Jason’s autism with his writing life, family, school, and budding friendship. She’s succeeded in creating an authentic autistic character who is anything but stereotypical.
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.
This book was awarded the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, but as well intentioned as it might have been, it was clearly written by someone with almost no understanding of what Aspies are really like—it was written by and for a neurotypical audience.
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.
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.
This book portrays its autistic protagonist in ways that will give readers negative, incorrect, and in some cases abusive ideas about autistic people.
Overall, I was very pleased with Al Capone Does My Shirts and how it depicts autism. Moose and Natalie are complex and endearing characters who remain with you long after the book is closed.
While Call’s disability informs his character, it’s hardly the focus of the story, and I appreciated that. What I liked even more was the way Black and Clare treated Call’s disability when they did mention it.