Colin Fischer is a high school student with Asperger’s Syndrome, a mild form of autism. School is a maze to get through each day.
“He pushed his way through the sea of humanity around him…eyes downcast to avoid the gaze and attention of any predator that might hunt the hallway.” “Excuse me,” he would say…”Please don’t touch me.”
Colin has trouble understanding human emotions and can’t read how a person is feeling. He carries around flash cards with different facial expressions drawn on them. He uses them when confronted with Wayne, the ultimate school bully.
“Wayne was a beast…Colin scrutinized the smile . Analyzed it. What did it mean? He pictured a series of flash cards…Friendly. Nervous. Happy. Surprised. Shy. CRUEL.”
When a gun goes off in the cafeteria, Wayne is the main suspect. But Colin knows he didn’t do it. Because Colin sees facts above everything else and can detach emotionally, he sets out to prove that Wayne is innocent, even if Wayne is guilty of so many other things. I loved the relationship that developed between Wayne and Colin. No one was more surprised than Wayne himself that Colin was helping to prove his innocence.
I liked that realistically none of the characters changed their stripes, but you do experience the growth of these two teens. Also a bonus in this book, Colin is constantly writing thoughts down in an old green notebook. I learned all kinds of new things, like “The Prisoner’s Dilemma,” that Sherlock Holmes was not the first modern fictional detective, (Do you know who was?) and even about Hans Asperger for whom the syndrome was named, and his counterpart, Dr. Gross, who was involved with Nazi experiments. Lots of info for one little book… But if you want a glimpse into the mind of a teen with Asperger’s, this is a great read. On a side note, another similar great read is “Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time” by Mark Haddon.