Welcome to my blog. I often think I was born with a book in my hand. I have always enjoyed reading, but more importantly, talking about books. This blog is partially about reviews, but is really a forum to talk about what I'm reading, and express all of the thoughts and feelings that there simply isn't room for in a professional review. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on your favourite books as you follow my reading journey.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Better Than Weird- A Thoughtful and Compelling Read

In this stand alone sequel to The Mealworm Diaries, Anna Kerz revisits Aaron, a character from the previous book, to tell his story. Aaron  is a smart, sweet, gentle, and extremely well-meaning boy. He is extremely smart, and very self-aware, and he knows that those around him think he's weird.  Usually, this doesn't bother him too much because he's got Gran, who has seemingly endless patience for his oddities, and his friend Jeremy from school. Lately, however, there seem to be a lot of things for Aaron to cope with. There's Tufan, the bully at school, there's the news that his dad is coming back for a visit for the first time in the eight years since Aaron's mother died, and that he has a pregnant wife, and there's the news that his beloved Gran is having an operation. But through it all, it's his big heart and his sense of humour that help him to face the challenges that he encounters.

This is a very sweet read, and one with some positive messages. Though not explicitly stated in the text, readers will be able to infer from certain clues that Aaron has some kind of Autism Spectrum Disorder. He generally dislikes being touched, he's often clumsy, and extensive lists help him to make sense of things he has to do. He also has a great deal of trouble reading people, and works hard with the counsellor in his school to understand their facial expressions and fit in better.

Despite his efforts, the road isn't always smooth for Aaron, and I like that the author doesn't gloss over it to create a warm and fuzzy world where everybody just accepts him and accommodates him. The adults surrounding him are flawed. They try their best, but they lose patience, get angry and grumble, and it's an important part of Aaron's emotional growth in learning to understand this. This is particularly important for his new relationship with his father, which is often awkward and uncomfortable. Aaron's friend Jeremy (the featured character in the previous book) is also an interesting foil, and the author has done a nice job of creating a believable dynamic between them. Jeremy likes Aaron, but sometimes he's just a bit too much.

There are many important lessons that Aaron learns throughout the novel, including how to handle a bully, and how to slow himself down and exhibit some patience, and the author handles it sensitively and simply. The book is a fast and easy read, and teachers will find lots to discuss if it's read in a classroom setting.