Autism Talks and Talks – Sharon A Mitchell
I took a break from this free series (via Kindle Unlimited) because the last book just about put me off. However, as evidenced by my continual reading of ABA books for reviewing purposed, I have an unexplainable habit of reading books that annoy me.
In the next book in the “School Daze” series on Autism, the readers are finally introduced to a girl with autism and an adolescent girl at that. It’s nice to see some more diversity in the representations of autism – the series has managed to portray autism in a few different ways now, so that is something positive to see.
It’s a pity then that the focus of this book does not really seem to be on the this book’s new autistic character, Karen, but on yet another developing love story between Jeff and teacher’s aide, Lori. At this rate the entire social circle will be dating each other.
There are a lot of awkward things throughout this book that just do not make sense in the wider context (remember that this is the fourth book in the series). For example, we learnt in a previous book that Lori has been working with Mel for quite a while. Given that we have been told over and over how wonderful Mel is with all autistic children, the mistakes and misunderstandings that Lori has in this book are completely nonsensical. If she really were so misinformed about autism then surely Mel would have either addressed that with support or training, or gotten rid of her? It’s just an opportunity for Jeff to step in and demonstrate how he is also amazing at working with autistic children and to provide an awkward arena for ‘info-dumping’ and it’s jarring.
The whole book suffers from ongoing continuity problems and poor flow. There’s a number of scenes where the reader is jumped through multiple days and weeks of therapy between teacher Rob (who apparently is also a qualified therapist?) and Karen’s mum. Then we jump back to the love story between Lori and Jeff. Occasionally we might get to see a short scene on how Karen is getting on but it’s safe to say that the focus is definitely off of the autistic child this book. Which would be okay if the focus on autistic adult, Jeff, was well done. Which it’s not. Plus there’s the fact that a female autistic character is being pushed to a minor role so that another male autistic character can be focused on, which is quite frustrating.
There are massive continuity and editing problems that impact on how scenes between Jeff and Lori unfold. For example, on two separate occasions Lori and Jeff have the exact same conversations twice in this book, one about him dropping out of further education because of his executive function issues and another about him moving out of his parents’ house. These are not instances of one scene building on a previous one, but the exact same conversations with maybe a few words changed and there is no acknowledgement of the conversation ever having taken place previously. I had to scroll back to check I wasn’t imagining things.
In the previous 3 books there were parts I enjoyed, this one was just so poorly edited that I didn’t find anything that I particularly liked. Editing and continuity problems aside, the storyline is okay – never really peaks above average. By this point the love story is almost becoming a copy paste tale with different actors. This book tries to do something a little different with an abusive ex that Lori is struggling to deal with and, with a bit more tidying up in editing, the growing relationship between Lori and Jeff could have been good. As it ends up, it’s just kind of scruffy and mashed together.
….one more to go…