A teenage author addresses others with autism with a mix of expressive drawings and insights from her own experiences intended to help “give your brain the right tools to reconfigure its hardware.”
Her advice is presented in 23 not-really-sequential, illustrated “Steps.” These trace her progress from learning to “Figure Out Faces” and “Figure Out Feelings (your own first of all)” to tolerating imperfections in self and in others, balancing freedom with responsibility and, finally, accepting that “I’m just as human—and alien—as everyone else!” The pictures are interspersed throughout the text, which is printed in a handwritten-style typeface (with a nod to author/illustrator and, here, her publisher, Marissa Moss). They include a chart equating colors with moods, figures and tableaux with creatively spelled dialogue and captions, and paired “inside” and “outside” self-portraits on good days and bad. To judge from the long tribute her therapist appends, Frenz has received enviable quantities of parental and professional support from kindergarten on. Still, she’s the one who had to do the work of figuring out how to make her way in the world, and readers with or seeking to understand autism will find her matter-of-fact observations both savvy and easy to absorb.
A distinctive addition to the chorus of writers who are proving that “spectrum disorders” do not equal “silence.” (Self-help. 10-14)