People seem to have a fascination lately with reading books by or about people with Autism. Temple Grandin is a well known author and the Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time was also very popular. There’s even a television show that features someone with presumed Asperger’s who is played for humorous effect. That said, there are very few books written by people with permanent and yet not debilitating or degenerative disabilities. This is one of those rare books. It’s written in interview style where the two authors Jason Kingsley and Mitchell Levitz have conversations with their parents and other family members which are then transcribed and grouped loosely into chapters. The book spans the authors' late teenage years and sees both of them through their high school graduations and planning for the future.
Both men are the product of very caring close families and both were born when very little was known about Down Syndrome. Mitchell’s mother was told he would likely never sit up or speak; her obstetrician suggested the boy be immediately institutionalized. The families grew to know each other through local channels and helped their sons grow into aware and able young men. Most of this book takes place in their own words and involves them talking about subjects like how they get along with other kids, how they interact with their families, what their hopes and dreams are for the future. I was a little sad to not be able to find more information about Mitchell and Jason online to see where their future took them after this book -- which has been reprinted in the last few years -- because I was curious to see what happened after the book ended which I think is a sign of a captivating read.
I read this book under deadline. I did a short interview with Jaron Lanier that is set to appear in Library Jounrnal. I had an uncorrected proof of the book and I enjoyed reading it and wildly writing in the margins. You can read my interview online here.