Reviews for Anything But Typical

Booklist Reviews 2009 February #1
*Starred Review* Baskin tells this luminous story entirely from the point of view of Jason, an autistic boy who is a creative-writing whiz and deft explainer of literary devices, but markedly at a loss in social interactions with neurotypicals both at school and at home. He is most comfortable in an online writing forum called Storyboard, where his stories kindle an e-mail-based friendship with a girl. His excitement over having a real friend (and maybe even girlfriend) turns to terror when he learns that his parents want to take him on a trip to the Storyboard conference, where he ll no doubt have to meet her in person. With stunning economy, Baskin describes Jason s attempts to interpret body language and social expectations, revealing the extreme disconnect created by his internalization of the world around him. Despite his handicap, Jason moves through his failures and triumphs with the same depth of courage and confusion of any boy his age. His story, while neither particularly heartbreaking nor heartwarming, shows that the distinction between normal and not normal is whisper-thin but easily amplified to create the chasm between different and defective. This is an enormously difficult subject, but Baskin, without dramatics or sentimentality, makes it universal. As Jason explains, there s really only one kind of plot: Stuff happens. That s it. Copyright 2009 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2009 #3
Baskin sets herself a difficult challenge by making her narrator both an aspiring writer and autistic, seemingly more severely so than, for instance, Ted in Siobhan Dowd's London Eye Mystery. Sixth-grader Jason is being mainstreamed this year (forgoing his one-on-one classroom aide), and sometimes the noises, smells, and interpersonal demands overwhelm him. One of his greatest comforts is the website Storyboard, where he posts a story about a dwarf considering a treatment that would make him normal-sized. When Jason's story attracts positive online comments from a girl, he begins to feel that he has a friend-even a girlfriend-but is panic-stricken when he learns they are both planning to attend the Storyboard conference. He's also distressed that his mother, not his father, ends up accompanying him to the conference, but both Jason and his "neurotypical" mom come to realize that in some ways he is more competent than she is. Baskin writes with striking honesty, especially about Jason's relationship with his parents, and incorporates many details about Jason's perceptions of and reactions to people that might help readers better understand their autistic peers. The book's greater strength, though, is communicating to readers how some of the same things that bother Jason might also bother them-whether it is bright lights, noisy rooms, or foods that touch-and establishing common ground. Copyright 2009 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2009 February #1
People say 12-year-old Jason Blake is weird. He blinks his eyes oddly and flaps his hands, his fingers jerking "like insects stuck on a string." Jason is autistic. He hates art class and PE, where there's too much space and unorganized time, but he feels at home on his computer, writing stories on the Storyboard website. When he meets a fellow writer named Rebecca online and has the chance to meet her in person at a Storyboard conference, he panics. What will happen to their comfortable online relationship when she meets him? Baskin's delineation of an autistic boy's world is brilliant, putting readers into Jason's mind, showing how he sees the world, understands how his parents feel about him, frets about fitting in and yearns to find at least one friend in the world. Readers even get some tips about writing short stories as they observe Jason composing his way to self-acceptance. "This is who I am. This is me," as one of his characters says. (Fiction. 10-14) Copyright Kirkus 2009 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2009 February #2
Baskin (All We Know of Love) steps into the mind of an autistic boy who, while struggling to deal with the "neurotypical" world, finds his voice through his writing ability. Though Jason initially seemed a prodigy, by third grade he had fallen behind academically, and his parents reluctantly had him tested ("A year later the only letters anybody cared about were ASD, NLD, and maybe ADD or ADHD, which I think my mom would have liked better. BLNT. Better luck next time"). Now in sixth grade, Jason still has behavioral difficulties, but is passionate about his writing and actively posts stories in an online forum. There he strikes up a friendship with (and develops a crush on) a fellow writer, though he becomes distraught when he discovers they will both be attending the same writing conference. The first-person narration gives dramatic voice to Jason's inner thoughts about his family and his own insecurities, even as he withholds details (usually about incidents at school) from readers. Jason's powerful and perceptive viewpoint should readily captivate readers and open eyes. Ages 10-14. (Mar.) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

School Library Journal Reviews 2009 March

Gr 4-7--Baskin writes in the voice of a high-functioning boy who identifies himself as having numerous disorders, most with labels that appear as alphabet soup. In the third grade, after yet another battery of tests, Jason receives the diagnosis of autism. Now in sixth grade, he relates how he does not fit in, even though he tries to follow the instructions of his therapists and helpers. He labels the rest of his classmates and teachers as neurotypicals, or NTs for short. While humor resonates throughout the book, the pathos of Jason's situation is never far from readers' consciousness. If only he could act on what he knows he needs to do, his life would be so much easier. Jason also shows himself to be a deep thinker and an excellent writer. Through his stories and thinly veiled fictional characters, Baskin reveals not only the obstacles that Jason faces, but also his fierce determination to be himself at all costs. Jason is a believable and empathetic character in spite of his idiosyncrasies. Baskin also does a superb job of developing his parents and younger brother as real people with real problems, bravely traversing their lives with a differently abled child without a road map, but with a great deal of love.--Wendy Smith-D'Arezzo, Loyola College, Baltimore, MD

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