Jason, a sixth grader, has a real talent for creative writing and uses his fictional characters to tell great stories. His writing is so good that he posts them on a message board called Storyboard, where people leave encouraging feedback for him. He loves the online forum, most especially because online, no one can tell he has autism. In the real world, he is nearly non-verbal, has a lot of facial ticks and hand movements and does not understand the social interactions of his classmates, whom he calls neurotypicals, or NTs.
Life among the NTs gets even harder for Jason as he develops an online relationship with another Storyboard member, a girl whom he thinks of as maybe his girlfriend. The trouble is that Jason’s parents, to reward him for good behavior, are taking him to the Storyboard in-person conference this year and his ‘girlfriend’ is going, too. Now Jason knows that he will have to interact with her, this NT girl who will surely be put off by Jason’s different-ness.
Baskin’s story deftly follows Jason as narrator, but also paints a believable portrait of Jason’s parents and NT little brother as real people trying to figure out how to live with an atypical person. It would be easy of Baskin to end the story with a grand statement about learning to accept people who are different, but really it’s more about Jason’s coming to terms with who and how he is and how being atypical can still mean being true to yourself.
Posted by: Cindy