Dani's Reviews > Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger's

Look Me in the Eye by John Elder Robison
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's review
Jun 13, 2009

it was amazing
bookshelves: june-reads


"Look me in the eye," is something John Robinson grew up hearing. He was constantly told that he would end up as a criminal, him having shifty eyes and all, and what did he have to hide?

Unfortunately for John, Asperger's Syndrome wasn't widely known when he was growing up. In his time, the only autism that was "seen" was the extreme cases, the ones that were locked away in worlds of their own, that couldn't function in society at all.

I was drawn to this book for a few reasons. The first being that I loved the cover and the title. The second, that my own little Superman has been diagnosed with autism and I wanted to learn more from the humanistic standpoint.

This book chronicles his life as an undiagnosed Aspergian. There are some very painful moments, but his wit and humor kept me glued to my seat--excuse the cliche--and I finished it in nearly one sitting. He explains how he thought, how he saw the world, and how the world saw him. He states that some have said that people with Asperger's (or autism) have no desire to interact socially with others. He corrects this way of thinking. He wanted to interact, would loved to have been accepted, but didn't know how. He eventually quit trying because he couldn't take any more rejections from the children he was trying to make friends with.

His life took some wild curves and turns, and it wasn't until he was in his 40s that he was diagnosed with Asperger's. His life was unbelievable, but completely human at the same time. And something he's learned since writing this book and doing book tours is that it's a common thing for humans to yearn for acceptance, even as they feel rejection. And no one is immune.

I loved the humor. My favorite part was when he was determined to make friends with Chuckie. He decided that to introduce himself, he would pet her on the head. His reasoning is that dogs liked it, it's how they made friends, and that he liked it. It calmed him down and soothed him when his mom would rub his head and arm at night. Her reaction wasn't quite what he was going for. She smacked him. Undeterred, but confused, he decided to try again, this time with a stick. His reasoning was that if she couldn't reach him, she couldn't smack him. Unfortunately, the teacher didn't see it that way. >.<

There is a bit of language, and his life addresses some serious issues: abuse (family), mental illnesses, alcholism, drugs (he made guitars for KISS) and all the things that go with traveling with rock stars, bullying, and dropping out of school. The paperback is a revised version that he pruposefully cleaned up the language for because he knew there might be younger people reading his book.

My only quibble was that it ended. I loved the book and hope he writes more in the future.

My favorite line: "It's not a disease. It doesn't need curing. It's just how you are."

5 out of 5 stars

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