An eighth-grader’s Asperger’s syndrome complicates her navigation of an unpredictable—and often inexplicable—world.
Kicked out of school after cracking a popular (and rather deserving) girl on the head with her lunch tray during one of her many anger-driven meltdowns, Kiara’s searching for a real friend. When 12-year-old Chad and his little brother move in across the street, it seems like the perfect opportunity. Chad is deceitful, but Kiara quickly discovers it’s mostly because his parents are using him to buy large quantities of Sudafed, an ingredient for their meth lab. She also explores a developing connection with Antonio, a friend of her older brother and someone who seems to understand her focus on Rogue, one of the X-Men, whom she views as a comforting alter ego. Whether Antonio’s just being friendly or trying to exploit her innocence is never clear, but his attractiveness lands her and Chad at a high school drinking party. With her back-up–singer mother performing in Canada and her father not really understanding her, Kiara has few adult resources, and her frustration with the world rings true in her first-person narration. Her meltdowns, unfortunately, come off more as tantrums than manifestations of her syndrome, making her a less-attractive character than she deserves to be.
An interesting and somewhat enlightening look at a girl struggling but sometimes making bumpy progress in dealing with Asperger’s. (Fiction. 12-18)