Sixteen-year-old Martin Dubois navigates family, friendships, and neurotypical attitudes in Reyl’s teen romance.
Spending the first half of the summer in France on location with his filmmaker mother and Stanford-bound sister is as thrilling as it is terrifying for Martin. The white, autistic teen’s near fluency in French, his penchant for classic French cookery, and his complex affinity for Proust’s In Search of Lost Time (or Search, as he calls it) ought to make the trip an exciting immersion. But they are not enough to drown out Martin’s anxiety about attending a general education French high school (lycée), where his ways of interpreting and interacting with the physical and social worlds are sure to clash with others’. To his surprise, however, he makes friends with a few students rather quickly and finds referential roles for all of them in Search, including the potential for romance. But when it becomes clear that the other teens have only befriended him for his proximity to Hollywood stars, Martin begins to consider all the relationships in his life and what they mean to and for him. While Reyl hasn’t broken the mold of autistic teen protagonists, Martin is a credit to the growing corpus, with multimodal idiosyncrasies that he builds on rather than buries and a validating first-person narrative and first romance.
A charming teen debut. (Fiction. 13-17)