Australian twins Perry, who has a brain condition, and Justine, who is his full-time caregiver, travel together to Vancouver.
Justine and Perry’s mother left when the two were children, and their father died of cancer just before they turned 18. For two years, Justine has served as Perry’s sole caregiver, but after the trip, Perry will move into Fair Go, a residential facility their father chose before his death. Justine and Perry narrate alternating sections, interspersed with short passages from their father’s journal. Between the journal entries, which recount moments from the twins’ childhood, and the canned spiel Justine gives strangers to explain Perry’s “inappropriate” behavior, a large part of the aim here seems to be introducing neurotypical readers to Perry’s condition. The story unfolds with intimacy and affection, shown through the twins’ special nicknames for each other and each sibling’s desire to do right by the other. Perry’s attempts to follow social rules and his enthusiasm for his interests—Jackie Chan, seismology, mythical monsters—are clear in the sections he narrates, but how he feels about essentially being apologized for every time Justine gives her spiel is unfortunately never explored.
There’s a warm family story amid the didacticism, but the sense that autism must be constantly explained and justified to outsiders is discomfiting. (Fiction. 14-18)