Fiction Books Featuring Autism

See also:    Children's Books About Autism    Fiction   

Bauer, Anne
Edward is nearly four years old when he begins his slow, painful withdrawal from the world. For those who love him -- his father, Jack, and mother, Rachel, pregnant with their third child -- the transformation of their happy, intelligent firstborn into a sleepless, feral stranger is a devastating blow, one that brings enormous ramifications not just for Edward and his parents, but also for their younger son, Matt, and soon-to-be-born daughter. A Wild Ride Up the Cupboards follows this nuclear family as Rachel and Jack try to come to terms with their son's descent into autism (or something like it) and struggle to sustain their marriage under this unanticipated strain. Threaded through the novel, too, is the story of Rachel's deceased uncle Mickey, who may have suffered from a similar disorder at a time when parenting, pediatrics, and ideas about child psychology were entirely different from today's. As Rachel delves into her own family history in search of answers, flashbacks to Mickey's life afford moving insight into the nature of childhood disorders and the coping mechanisms of different families. A spellbinding, brilliantly nuanced portrait of a marriage and a family, this compelling drama also poses provocative, real-life questions: How much should a mother sacrifice for her children? How much intervention is too much? When do parents' ambitions for their offspring become counterproductive, even destructive? Who should decide what is best for the child? Is it ever worth sacrificing a marriage for a child? A Wild Ride Up the Cupboards is a carefully crafted, compulsively readable, emotional page-turner that reveals a remarkable gift for language and storytelling and enormous insight into the complexities and dilemmas of domestic life and parenthood. It is a striking exploration of love, faith, and sacrifice that will resonate with readers everywhere.

Bottomer, Phyllis
Autism was not a recognised disorder in Jane Austen's lifetime, nor for well over a century after her death. However there were certainly people who had autism, and Phyllis Ferguson Bottomer proposes that Austen wrote about them, without knowing what it was that she was describing. So Odd a Mixture looks at eight seemingly diverse characters in Austen's classic novel, Pride and Prejudice, who display autistic traits. These characters - five in the Bennet family and three in the extended family of the Fitzwilliams - have fundamental difficulties with communication, empathy and theory of mind. Perhaps it is high-functioning autism or Asperger's Syndrome that provides an explanation for some characters' awkward behaviour at crowded balls, their frequent silences or their tendency to lapse into monologues rather than truly converse with others. This fascinating book will provide food-for-thought for students and fans of Austen's classic novel, and for anyone interested in autism spectrum disorders.

Brenna, Beverly
Taylor Jane Simon is 18 years old and spending the summer with her mother in Prince Albert National Park. The holiday has been planned so Taylor's mother can spend time with her latest boyfriend, Danny, and work in the pizza restaurant near the park that Danny runs. Taylor would just as soon stay at home in Saskatoon, but because she suffers from an autistic condition called Asperger's Syndrome, she can't stay on her own. Taylor's mother encourages her daughter to explore the park's possibilities on her own. For Taylor, whose life experience has been seriously limited, this means facing the test of meeting new people who work in the park's nature center-and facing it alone. Summer also holds out the possibility of finding her own boyfriend, though Taylor isn't quite sure what that may involve. What she discovers will change her life forever. Written as an epistolary novel, Wild Orchid is frank but optimistic, literal yet innocent. A courageous wit attends Taylor's gradual emergence as her own person, and the reader will find the exploration of Taylor's mind a revealing and heartwarming encounter.

Bristow, Catherine
Surviving the teenage years isn't easy. Especially, if you've just found out why you're feeling so, totally, different from the rest of the kids at school. In My Strange and Terrible Malady, Ronita Baker, 11th-grade individualist, is not happy. Doctors just diagnosed her with Asperger Syndrome. It's hard enough being the misfit daughter of a perfect mother. School isn't much easier. Things change when Ronnie meets Hannah and she takes the time to explain the mysteries of social interaction and other conundrums of daily life to Ronnie. Hannah soon makes more sense to Ronnie than the despised Life Coach. At first -- but that changes when the Life Coach starts relating better to Ronnie. My Strange and Terrible Malady takes a look at Asperger Syndrome from a young woman's point of view. Ronnie is clearly not socially savvy, but she is learning. Social and emotional interaction can be learned.

Broder, Bill
A rich and suspenseful novel about two enterprising young women who unwittingly run afoul of the notorious Jewish Purple Gang in Prohibition-era Detroit. The year is 1928, the height of Prohibition; the setting is a resort town on the shores of Lake Michigan. The Bearwalds are the only Jewish family in town, owners of the local dry goods store. Cleo, the elder daughter, is a beautiful, autistic twenty-year-old who, in her own way, operates more successfully than her loved ones. Rebecca, eighteen, yearns to escape what looks to be a lifetime of "taking care of Cleo" -- the only role her parents see for her. Cleo herself has other ideas. The novel's intricate plot is set in motion when Cleo discovers a beached bootleggers' yacht filled with illegal liquor. Using materials and tools from the boatworks where she is an apprentice boatwright, she renovates the yacht and coerces her sister into helping her to sell the liquor so that Rebecca, who is unaware of the plan, will have money to attend the University of Michigan. Cleo's activities cause the Purple Gang, famous Jewish gangsters out of Detroit, to mistake her father for a rival bootlegger, with near-fatal results. Running through Taking Care of Cleo is a subtle and life-affirming reevaluation of autism, which becomes one bright thread in a novel that is by turns serious, ironic, and comic, and ends with a happy surprise.

Crowley, Suzanne
Merilee leads a Very Ordered Existence. V.O.E., for short. Her schedule (which must not be altered) includes, among other entries: * School (horrendous) * Litter patrol (30 minutes daily) * Lunch (PB&J and a pickle) * Bottle return (Friday only at the Piggly Wiggly) * Dame Fiona's meditation show (Saturday only, 6:00 AM). The V.O.E. is all about precision. Merilee does not have time for Biswick O'Connor. Merilee does not have time for Miss Veraleen Holliday. He with his annoying factoids and runny nose. She with her shining white shoes as big as sailboats. Both of them strangers who, like the hot desert wind that brings only bad news, blow into town and change everything.

Essinger, Mary
When Mabelline sets out on a journey to visit her pen pal Rosa, she doesn't expect to be staying quite so long as she does. Mabelline quickly takes Rosa and her son Carlos to her heart, but she knows right away there is something different about the boy. When tragedy occurs, Mabelline is forced to be responsible for Carlos as he struggles to fit into a world based on rules he doesn't understand, and finds himself in serious trouble. Set in a tropical world of beautiful flowers and dazzling sun, Wounded Bird of Paradise is a story about love in an unlikely family, threaded with problems faced by someone with Asperger Syndrome. Carlos is a young man with Asperger Syndrome struggling to fit into an intimidating world. Mabelline is a woman who reluctantly takes a journey that ends up changing her life. This unlikely pair takes us on an emotional journey that warms the heart whilst illustrating the difficulties someone with Asperger Syndrome undergoes trying to hold down a job in a nursery, make friends, talk to girls, and cope with life.

Geaumont, Melinda
While many women have one or two close friends in their lives, Auma had been blessed with a circle of thirteen. Long ago, the girls had vowed to each other that when they became grandmothers, each would ask to be called 'Auma', with affection and in reverence to all the 'drama and trauma' that had transpired along the way. From within the pages of handwritten journals kept over her lifetime, her story unfolds. Graced and comforted by the support of her friends forever by her side, she maintains the strength not only to persevere during life's most difficult challenges, but also to cherish and celebrate the simplicity and joys of each day. While many people may strive to 'make lemonade from life's lemons,' Auma and friends take the same lemons of life, trade them in for limes, toss in some tequila, make margaritas and throw a party. This genuine sisterhood shapes Auma's ordinary life into something extraordinary and makes hers a story worth telling.

Heiman, Herb
This is the story of Justin, a 15-year-old boy with autism who is starting his first semester in a mainstream school and Brad, the school track star, all-around cool guy, and Justin s assigned buddy. In Running on Dreams, these two middle-school boys are tossed together in a story of teenage angst, confusion, and friendship. For adolescents with autism and their neurotypical peers alike, the book is written from both Justin s and Brad s perspectives as they struggle to understand each other and themselves. Join Brad and Justin as they embark upon several teen benchmarks: the first date, rejection by peers, family pressure to succeed, fitting in with the right crowd, experiencing teenage sexuality, and dealing with the outsider kid who is perceived as not cool. This book captures many bittersweet and humorous events that bring new insight to a familiar world the world of heartbreak for two boys whose relationship starts out quite turbulent but evolves into a friendship of loyalty and trust.

Keating, V.C.
The Fire Stone is a novel set on a beautiful Georgian Bay estate, describes family secrets, autism, haunting memories of bereavement, and the redemptive power of kinship.

Leimbach, Marti
Leimbach, the author of Dying Young (1989), tackles a story that hits close to home for her: a young mother grappling with the ramifications of her young son's diagnosis with autism. Melanie Marsh has what seems to be the perfect life: an American woman living abroad in London, she and her husband, Stephen, have two beautiful children. But when a doctor tells her that her three-year-old son, Daniel, who isn't developing normally, is autistic, Melanie resists Stephen's increasingly insistent suggestions that Daniel needs to be placed in a special school for autistic children. Determined that her son speak, Melanie turns to Andy O'Connor, who believes with patience and attention he can get autistic children to speak and play. Melanie believes Daniel will speak, but what she doesn't anticipate is that her marriage is in real danger or that she'll be deeply attracted to the charismatic Andy. Focused and tightly written, Leimbach's novel is an absorbing and hopeful story about a mother's love for and faith in her child.

Lindskold, Jane
Cutbacks have forced Sarah out of the asylum in which she was raised—and into a strange new place where the Head Wolf rules the beautiful and the doomed. But Sarah can never truly assimilate, for she possesses wild talents. Walls tell her their secrets. Safes tell her their combinations. And a favorite toy dragon whispers dire warnings about those who would exploit her for their own malevolent purposes. There's no place Sarah can hide, from her pursuers or from her past…

Lord, Cynthia
Twelve-year-old Catherine just wants a normal life. Which is near impossible when you have a brother with autism and a family that revolves around his disability. She's spent years trying to teach David the rules -- from "a peach is not a funny-looking apple" to "keep your pants on in public" -- in order to stop his embarrassing behaviors. But the summer Catherine meets Jason, a paraplegic boy, and Kristi, the next-door friend she's always wished for, it's her own shocking behavior that turns everything upside down and forces her to ask: What is normal?

Miller, Sue
The whole world could not have broken the spirit and strength of the Eberhardt family of 1948. Lainey is a wonderful if slightly eccentric mother. David is a good father, sometimes sarcastic, always cool-tempered. Two wonderful children round out the perfect picture. Then the next child arrives -- and life is never the same again. Over the next forty years, the Eberhardt family struggles to survive a flood tide of upheaval and heartbreak, love and betrayal, passion and pain...hoping they can someday heal their hearts.

Mukhopadhyay, Soma; Mukhopadhyay, Tito
A collection of tales and stories, each prefaced by a charming note from Tito explaining how the story came into being. These often exotic, always poetic, stories are not only small gems in themselves but offer insights into the workings of the autistic mind that will change our way of thinking about, or judging, people with that affliction. Above all, this is the work of a true poet.

Rogers, Will
A children's fantasy novel about a boy and his quest to find happiness. The author's high-functioning autism gives this tale a unique perspective, combining humour, adventure and heartfelt emotion.

Trehin, Gilles
Urville, the capital of a large island province, has a population of nearly 12 million, making it the one of the most significant cities in Europe. It is also entirely imaginary. Gilles Tréhin, an autistic man with exceptional creative talents and an obsession with large cities, conceived and developed Urville over the course of 20 years. He shares his vision in this beautifully illustrated guide to the city, which he renders convincingly real in nearly 300 drawings of different districts of Urville. He describes, in remarkable detail, the architectural styles of its individual buildings and provides historical, geographical, economic and cultural information. This includes historical figures and cultural anecdotes grounded in historical reality - Tréhin accounts for the effects of the Vichy regime, the Second World War and globalisation on his imagined city. This book offers fascinating evidence of and insight into the creative power of the autistic mind and will be of interest to people with autism and without.

Werlin, Nancy
Though fourteen-year-old Alison Shandling is a brain, her twin brother, Adam, is autistic. All of her life, Alison's parents have focused on Adam and what he needs, while Alison has always felt she had to be perfect. When the rabbi's son, Harry Roth, begins taunting Alison about her brother, she does her best to stand up for herself. But when Harry is injured in a diving accident, Alison senses that he's hiding something that he wants to share with someone. And she begins to think that she's just the someone he can share it with....

Winegar, Tracy
Keller is a force to be reckoned with! The year is 1955, and few people understand or tolerate mental handicaps. For Beverly and Warren Vance, the daily struggle to live with their handicapped son, Keller, is taking its toll. Keller is large for his age and often aggressive, prone to throwing tantrums and breaking everything in sight. Beverly and Warren have been encouraged to institutionalize him, or at least keep him out of public view. But they decided long ago that trying to teach and raise him was a better option - at least until now. When a shocking development and a disastrous incident complicate their decision, the lines between right and wrong become increasingly blurred. Yet in the end, through their own choices they come to understand that the most important thing in life is family.

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