In his debut memoir, Finch relates how the diagnosis of his autism-spectrum condition came as a relief because it helped explain his obsessive habits, extreme social unease and egocentricity.
What had before been understood as character flaws were instead traits and tendencies that were hardwired in his neurological makeup. Moreover, Finch came to understand that Asperger-related tendencies—e.g., a near-complete lack of empathy and the inability to adjust to changing schedules—were at the root of his strained relationship with his wife and his frustrations as a parent of two young children. “Receiving such a diagnosis as an adult might seem shocking and unsettling,” he writes. “It wasn’t. Eye-opening, yes. Life-changing, yes. But not upsetting in the least…the diagnosis ultimately changed my life for the better.” With an endearing and sometimes manic energy, Finch sought to better understand the needs of his family and plot how he could modify his behaviors in order to regain intimacy with them. To help him succeed, the author created the Journal of Best Practices, a hodgepodge collection of journal entries and random scraps of paper that record moments of personal insight such as “Parties are supposed to be fun” and “Laundry: Better to fold and put away than to take only what you need from the dryer.” With an alternately comical and starkly painful voice, Finch uses these and other moments of epiphany to explore the inroads of emotional intimacy.
Funny, moving and insightful.