C.G. Drews's Reviews > Kids Like Us

Kids Like Us by Hilary Reyl
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really liked it
bookshelves: autism, contemporary, disability, read-2017, ya-male-narrators, young-adult

WELL I LIKED THIS ONE. It had such an epic combination of things to love: it's set in France, there is so much food, there's a boy who's obsessed with a book (#relatable) and it features autism with an actually good and accurate representation of it! I did get a bit confused at times, like especially with the ASD (autism spectrum disorder) discussions...sometimes I honestly don't know if I was for or against? Like heckin' heck, peoples, pls speak clearly. But I think this is a really lovely book. AND THAT COVER, RIGHT!

I want to sit in a flower.

+ So first of all: FRANCE!
I can't even with how much I love France...probably completely irrationally because I've never been buuuut ok there are croissants and coffee and it's a place of magic. I know. I have read the books. What I really loved about this was how authentic the setting was! Like it really dived into talking about language and unpacking French abbreviations and slang too...like this teenage boy is going to France and even though he's spoken French forever with his dad, it's VERY different to suddenly being around teens speaking it. I just loved all the details!

Can I pls have it on my wall.

+ I absolutely adored Martin!
He's adorable and winning and extremely thoughtful and intelligent. I loved that he was into cooking! Even if half of what he cooked sort of scared me but...like the dude is all into baking cakes and i am here for that. Where might I sign up to be friends with Martin forever. He's also REALLY in love with this old French book. Books are 98% of my life (I save room for snacks tho) so he was automatically relatable and winning and super sweet!

+ The romance...
Hahaha. No. I love how the tag line is "Martin never thought falling in love was for kids like him." Because NEWS FLASH: the book is not really JUST about falling in love. It didn't even seem the focus to me?? Martin gets obsessed with a girl he thinks is straight out of his book: but then she's not. And I loved his process and journey of discovery (and also his accidental hypocrisy of wishing her to be someone she's not...when he hates when people do that to him. VERY WELL WOVEN INTO THE STORY). But seriously...it's not like a wild love affair. And I didn't like the girl. I feel like we don't really know her well enough so it seemed shallow.

I, myself, am on the spectrum, so I can sort of speak with some solid shouts and hand waving passion on the topic. I honestly LOVED how Martin was written. He isn't a stereotype!! Can we like take a moment?!? This is so freaking refreshing. See, stereotypes are hard because lots of ASD people fit them. But the problem with stereotypes is that media will just latch onto one or two things and erase SO MUCH of what it is to be an individual on the spectrum. So this book actually delved into things I hadn't even seen in autism-related books before.

For instance:
Martin does a lot of echolalia -- meaning he repeats back what he's heard instead of saying his OWN words. I loved how they unpacked this topic, with Martin struggling with the idea that he isn't original. But like...nobody is original?? All words and phrases have been said. And while he repeats things a lot, his THOUGHTS are original.
He mixes up his pronouns! I loved seeing this on page because it's an overlooked part of ASD that isn't obviously true for all people on the spectrum, but it should be talked about more! My autistic nephew took years to put his pronouns in the right places (although I personally didn't struggle with that, although I grew up quoting as a huge part of my speech, like Martin).
Martin stims with voice tics and music. So pleased to see these represented here. <3
His anxiety was represented SO SO WELL. Just A+ fren.
• He also diverged from a few other ASD stereotypes. Aka, he loved lots of different food and he's good at sports/swimming and he detects sarcasm even if he doesn't like it.

+ It also discusses how OTHER people see autism.
And this is where I get a bit tangled...because the people around Martin where very problematic. His mother is definitely after a "cure" although she's not meaning to be awful??? (Still lowkey didn't like her.) But when he flat-out asks her if she wishes he was cured, she starts to say yes and then covers it up. #Pissed #Off And while I liked how it talked about balancing being drawn out of your autistic world and yet not being ashamed of it...I also felt a bit that Martin was convinced he needed to "pop his bubble" to have a good life. Like it was a bit this and that? So not bad. It's a perspective. And while they unpacked discussions about "cure culture" no one made any DEFINITE opinions. I felt this was a cop-out. When it was thrown around that Martin couldn't talk about cure-culture because he wasn't "really that autistic" (since he's high functioning) I KNEW he was in disagreement. But he didn't give an opinion and the discussion sort of fell apart without anyone saying much??! So I GET IT. The book is talking about things! It's a discussion. But it left me feeling frustrated that you'd start something SO HUGE and then slink out of it.


+ OK so my only downside with the actual storytelling is...Martin quotes a lot of his old French book and it's super boring.
haha, excuse me. My eyes just glazed over those bits because what the heck was he talking about. Not having read the book, I just felt uninvested when he described something about it.

I loved the writing and the sparse but well placed details. I thought this was a thoroughly accurate and interesting exploration of the autistic mind and feelings and experiences. I didn't always agree and I HATED how people treated Martin...but that's the point. Books are about uncomfortable and real things. It's actually quite dense, even though it's short, and gives you a lot to think about.

(...like thinking about croissants....)

(...dammit cait we are not thinking about french food right now focus...)
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Reading Progress

June 29, 2017 – Shelved
June 29, 2017 – Shelved as: to-read
October 8, 2017 – Started Reading
October 8, 2017 –
page 70
24.31% "This is actually excellent autism rep and I AM SO PLEASED. FINALLY."
October 9, 2017 – Shelved as: autism
October 9, 2017 – Shelved as: contemporary
October 9, 2017 – Shelved as: disability
October 9, 2017 – Shelved as: read-2017
October 9, 2017 – Shelved as: ya-male-narrators
October 9, 2017 – Shelved as: young-adult
October 9, 2017 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-16 of 16 (16 new)

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message 1: by Jazzy (new)

Jazzy aww this book sounds SO SWEET. can't wait to see what you say: the determining factor of whether we should read it or not (no pressure or anything)

C.G. Drews @Jazzy: *sweats under pressure* 😂😂

message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

ABOUT DAMN TIME somebody wrote stimming!!! I included it in my work without thinking twice, because I do it so naturally. My son really struggled with pronouns, too! And I often found that repeating was an easy way to make sure I understood what other people meant - because I didn't necessarily realize what they meant, especially if they happened to have an accent I wasn't familiar with or something like that. I have to say, though, that "cure" people are the worst - we're not a disease that needs to be done away with, like cancer!

Elle (TheBookishActress) Ah Cait this is a really great review! I've seen so much bad and toxic autistic rep that it's great to see there's some good (or mostly good at least) out there.

C.G. Drews @Daley: EXACTLY. It's actually weird how many books don't put stimming in? Even for high-functioning (god I still hate using that phrase) ASD people, we still stim?!? And I appreciated that Martin stimmed a bit as his happy place too (listening to his music) which is important.

(And I'm GLAD it discussed the cure thing, I just wish it'd been more...black and white about it? A bit? Because Martin didn't want to be cured but he also sort of just wilted and left it when he realised his family didn't see it that way....but still I'm SO impressed it actually talked about it and Martin liked who he was.)

C.G. Drews @Elise: Yes! I am actually worried because there's a LOT of autism books coming out or just recently published...and I'm scared people think it's trendy to write about?? And they're putting forward horrible and under-researched books. 0_0 So it's great to see ones like this out and I hope it gets boosted!!

C.G. Drews @Brinkley: Thanks so so much. <3 And it's just exciting to see ASD represented in a non-negative way right?!? I felt really heard in this book and not squashed like most other books.

Susie Wang Have you seen the Netflix show Atypical? I learned a lot about ASD from the show. It was really funny and moving, too. Would love to hear your thoughts on it.

C.G. Drews @Susie: Ahh...sorry I have the unpopular view on that show. 🙈 In my opinion (which isn't the only opinion of course!) Atypical was full of stereotypes and a lot of them where harmful. Like making the ASD kid's actions the comedic aspect? It's pretty hurtful. Plus a lot of Sam's behaviours weren't realistic.😥

message 10: by C.G. (new) - rated it 4 stars

C.G. Drews @Brinkely: Egahd that absolutely sucks. Sometimes it's actually impossible to deal with people like that. 😒😒I'm sorry you had to go through that.

@Katie: I have to be honest that being asked that makes me pretty much devastated. There's nothing to cure with autism. It's how your brain works. It's asking me if I want to "cure" being myself and become someone else?!? If you're truly curious, I'd suggest reading books by #ownvoices autistic authors and reading their blogs and articles.

Susie Wang Cait (Paper Fury) wrote: "@Susie: Ahh...sorry I have the unpopular view on that show. 🙈 In my opinion (which isn't the only opinion of course!) Atypical was full of stereotypes and a lot of them where harmful. Like making t..."

Well, thank you so much for being honest! I'm going to read this book and see if there's anything I can learn from it, and maybe I'll understand your stance on Atypical more.

Though I really didn’t feel like we were laughing at Sam or his ASD when we watched the show. But since those portrays were not authentic in you opinion, I’d also love to hear some recommendations from you!

Taryn @Katie - If you're not disabled (although not all autistic people consider autism a disability!!! - it could be hard to understand, but the notion is harmful. Wanting to change how someone's brain works and literally who they are/how they live differently than you based on disability alone is problematic. The most important thing to learn is not to view autism as a negative thing. Hope this helps <3

message 13: by C.G. (new) - rated it 4 stars

C.G. Drews @Susie: There were definitely some authentic portrayals, imo. But I'm only one person on the spectrum and there's a lot! Sam's symptoms often seemed extremely dramatised and OTT.

But Kids Like us in an A+ place to start with reading good books with autism.😍 I also recommend Failure to Communicate and Queens of Geek since they're books about autistics written by autistics.

message 14: by C.G. (new) - rated it 4 stars

C.G. Drews @Taryn. <3 <3

Susie Wang Cait (Paper Fury) wrote: "@Susie: There were definitely some authentic portrayals, imo. But I'm only one person on the spectrum and there's a lot! Sam's symptoms often seemed extremely dramatised and OTT.

But Kids Like us..."

Thanks for the recommendations! I'll be be reading Kids Like Us first, then maybe checking out the other two when I'm finished.

Looking forward to talking about them with you when I'm done!

message 16: by Elle (last edited Dec 15, 2017 05:55PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Elle (TheBookishActress) Katie wrote: "Cait (Paper Fury) wrote: "@Katie: I have to be honest that being asked that ..."

Oh. I'm sorry. I thought autism was like something else (cannot for the life of me think of a good example) and I w..."

in case it helps: autism is a word for a way your brain works , rather than a word for a debilitating condition. like Cait said, looking for sources by autistic people about it is probably best :)

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