Anything But Typical
is not a book about
autism by any means. It is a book about a boy named Jason, and, like any fictional character, he is dealing with an issue, a conflict, something he needs to overcome. Or not. In Jason's case, it is his autism.
In all my novels, the resolution is somewhat similar ? acceptance. I have never written a story where the main character's problem is truly solved. Living rarely has real resolutions. For the most part we all need to accept things about ourselves or our situation, usually both.
All my novels end with the main character gaining empowerment, but usually over a situation which hasn't really changed. Whether it is a girl who learns she will never understand why her mother left her (this actually describes two of my books), a boy who gives up his spot on the travel basketball team when he realizes the greater importance of friendship, an existential awakening after the death of a classmate, discovering the choice to be Jewish was there all the time, or a lonely girl accepting a new family and finding home there. Or Jason.
However, what makes Jason even more of a hero is that he has accepted himself from the start. It is the world around him that has the problem. In the book, Jason is not grappling with his diagnosis. He struggles with how other people treat him, how the public judges and categorizes him ? how they perceive him, often incorrectly. Jason knows he does not fit exactly into the typical world, yet he is not exactly sure he would want to if he could.
As I was writing this novel, I fell in love with this boy. And although I would not wish upon myself, or anyone, any kind of handicap, I began to admire Jason and wish I were more like him. I learned a lot about courage. About acceptance. About love.
A writer and good friend of mine once told me she thought that all writers have something, something in their lives that causes them to feel as though they do not quite belong ? whether it is an early experience with death or a childhood illness, a physical attribute or emotional handicap. And, though I realize this pretty much describes everyone on the entire planet, people who decide to write need to be watchers, at some level, rather than doers. Jason is the epitome of an outsider, an interloper. He represents the disenfranchised. He represents me.
Me, the lonely child without a mother. Me, the writer, on the outside looking in ? for Jason, in the novel, is a writer too. Jason writes about writing, as he is writing, as he is being written about. I hoped that irony and symbolism would not be lost on my readers.
There is no lack of love in Jason. No lack of sensitivity or confusion or hurt or passion or hope. There is no lack of humanity. There is only the disconnect between the inner and outer life: what we want and what we need; what we can have and what will always be just out of reach but doesn't ever stop us from leaping, crying, laughing, loving. Dreaming. Living.