Review: Kids Like Us by Hilary Reyl

Kids Like UsTitle: Kids Like Us

Author: Hilary Reyl

Pages: 282 Pages

Publisher: Text Publishing

The Blurb

‘In her wonderfully touching YA debut, Hilary Reyl tells the story of one boy’s effort to connect his imaginary world to the real one. There is love, humor and compassion on every page. You’ll be blown away by this boy and by this book.’—Holly Goldberg Sloan, author of Counting by 7s.

The delightful story of Martin, a teenager on the autism spectrum, who falls for Gilberte-Alice, a ‘normal’ French girl. While spending summer in the French countryside with his mother, Martin mistakes Gilberte for a character in a novel he is obsessed with—Marcel Proust’s masterpiece In Search of Lost Time. He gradually realises she is not Gilberte, the fantasy girl, but a real person named Alice. Falling in love, in all its unpredictability, teaches Martin that he can in fact connect, can get out of his bubble.

Offering a window into the mind of a high-functioning autistic kid, Kids Like Us is the ultimate book about acceptance. Perhaps we are all in our own bubble; perhaps the line between reality and imagination does not have to be fixed.

We meet Martin’s adorable older sister, Elisabeth, his friend Layla and her very useful ‘moth’ theory. And there’s lots of great cooking. The prose is sharp, original and brimming with empathy and humour.

The Review

Autism is a condition that I find fascinating. I work with several children who have the condition and seeing how they deal with everyday situations really amazing. There has, in the past, been a lot of negativity towards the functionality of people with autism but I see how similar people with the condition are to – for want of a more accurate term – “fully functional people”.

In her book, Kids Like Us, Hilary Reyl explores this notion by placing her main character Martin in an unusual environment. He has moved to France with his mother (a moviemaker) and his sister, Elisabeth and he is embarking on a massive challenge of attending a mainstream school.

What is heartening about this novel is that you see Martin succeed. It isn’t easy for him to be in such an alien environment but he does the best he can and manages to blossom.

The novel also explores the idea that we never really can know how a person is thinking or feeling. Martin sees this most when he makes new friends. He cannot tell if they are trying to ride is coat tails into the glamorous world of showbiz or if they genuinely like him.

Reyl does an excellent job of portraying the mind of someone with autism. The rigidity and the early triggers are sensitively handled and Kids Like Us was genuinely an eye opener and a joy to read.

Kids Like Us by Hilary Reyl is available now.

For more information regarding Hilary Reyl (@HilaryReyl) please visit www.hilaryrey.com.

For more information regarding Text Publishing (@text_publishing) please visit www.textpublishing.com.au.

3 Stars

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