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Mindblind by Jennifer Roy
Marshall Cavendish, 2010

Nathaniel is fourteen years old, enjoys video games and The Amazing Race, and plays keyboards in a band with his best friend and the girl he adores. He is also a homeschooled university graduate, very skilled at mathematics, and has Asperger syndome. Nathaniel's life goal is to be an official genius, which is what many people consider him to be due to his incredible memory and knowledge. However, according to a book he read when he was seven years old, someone must "accomplish something outstanding" (p. 14) before he or she can be considered a genius, so Nathaniel is determined to meet that objective as soon as he can. It remains to be seen if life will get in the way of his goal, and how he might manage to achieve it.

Nathaniel has a typically complex teenage life: a girl he secretly has a crush on, divorced parents, not getting along with his father, and an embarrassing episode at a party. On top of that, he struggles to communicate with his family and friends due to his difficulty interpreting social cues, but he is an eminently likable person and quite self-aware. I enjoyed seeing the world from Nathaniel's perspective.

The supporting characters have a lot going on as well. Nathaniel's mother was a highlight for me, and her interactions with Nathaniel were kind, firm, and she often exhibited a sense of humour. In many ways, Nathaniel's father is the villain of the book in that he steadfastly refuses to try to relate to Nathaniel in a manner that is outside his comfort zone or expectations. The developing relationships that Nathaniel has with his father's wife and his four-year-old half-brother were lovely to observe, and Nathaniel's best friend Cooper was solid as a rock. So many people in Nathaniel's life were supportive of him and his gradual awareness of this was heartwarming.

Author Jennifer Roy has taken her experiences with her son (who, according to her website, also has Asperger syndrome and his highly gifted) and as a teacher and woven them into Mindblind. Thoughtful, humourous, illuminating, and highly recommended.

 





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