What To Say Next by Julie Buxbaum

Writing: 4 Characters: 5 Plot: 4

I fell in love with these characters.

This is a young adult boy meets girl story, but the boy is David Drucker, who may or may not have Aspergers Syndrome (he probably does, he spends a fair amount of time analyzing  the DSM with respect to his personality) and the girl is Kit Lowell, still in shock from her father’s accidental death just a month before.  Kit finds David weird, but “good weird”; David has Kit on his “trust list” as detailed in the Harriet-the-spy style notebook his sister Miney helped him start to record and reference the rules of social interaction.

I won’t give away any of the plot – suffice it to say that the things that happen are interesting, plausible, surprising, and give rise to reflection and growth on the part of the characters.  The story is told in their alternating voices.

I spent some more time wondering about why stories about people on the autistic spectrum interest me so much and I think its the aspect of the syndrome whereby they don’t get nuance, don’t get the social signals, and always tell it straight.  I think the ability to lie and manipulate (even for good) is really overrated.  It’s so refreshing (and relaxing) to talk to someone (or read about someone talking to someone else) and know that what they say is actually what they mean.  I think the world would be a better place if people could actually say what they thought and other people could receive that information without excess offense and emotion. I would like to be sensitive to what other people think and feel, and to be aware that they don’t necessarily share my background, experiences, or opinions; but if I have to modify what I say in order to please or calm them, then we aren’t really having an honest conversation.  Minority opinion, I know!

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