Donna Williams was either born autistic or became autisitc through relentless abuse and neglect from her family. This book reads more like Sybil than anything Temple Grandin has written as Williams seems to split into multiple personalities inside her head in order to cope with the overwhelming and perplexing world around her. As a first person account of autism, it can seem repetitive and strained from time to time and hearing about the author’s string of failed relationships and bad choices can be somewhat exhausting. Williams gives as much of a look inside her head as you suspect she is able to give, yet because she is not used to or conditioned in ways of relating emotionally to people the events she describes can seem somewhat like a laundry list.
The other side to this is, of course, if that’s how it comes off to us, imagine what it’s like to be inside this woman’s head? Williams is Australian and her experience with schooling and travel will be different-seeming to American readers. She wasn’t diagnosed with autism until she was in her twenties and seems to write off some of her worst problems as vitamin and food-allergy related. I was curious when she started discussing these things, if there were other people who have had similar problems. Since Williams is not the most reliable narrator throughout most of the book, many of her conclusions at the book’s end seem a bit suspect. In any case, it’s a remarkable book about overcoming adversity, but a bit rough to read.