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Kids Like Us
Contributor(s): Reyl, Hilary
ISBN: 0374306281     ISBN-13: 9780374306281
Publisher: Farrar Straus & Giroux
    OUR PRICE: $16.19  
Product Type: Hardcover
Published: November 2017
Annotation: Martin, an American boy on the autism spectrum living in France, falls for a French girl who he initially sees as an incarnation of a beloved book character, but then realizes that she is a real person, and that he is capable of love.
Additional Information
Library of Congress Subjects:
Autism; Fiction.
Love; Fiction.
Dewey: [Fic]
LCCN: 2016058778
Academic/Grade Level: Grade 7-9, Age 12-14
Book type: Juvenile Fiction
Physical Information: 8.75" H x 6.00" W x 1.00" (0.81 lbs) 282 pages
Descriptions, Reviews, Etc.

Reviewed by Horn Book Magazine Reviews (Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2018 #1)
Diagnosed with autism as a child, American teen Martin Dubois is the son of a famous filmmaker mother and a father now in jail. He's living for the summer in the Loire Valley, on location with his mother, and attending a "general-ed" French high school. When he finds himself attracted to a girl in his class, Martin struggles to find a way to connect with her and to live in the neurotypical world. Martin uses Proust's In Search of Lost Time (or, Remembrance of Things Past) as a guide, and his affinity for Proust gets in the way of seeing things as they are; he gets "stuck in his references" and doesn't always understand the people around him. He doesn't see, for instance, that his new friends aren't friends at all but "moths" at the flame of his mother's celebrity, using him to get close to her. Reyl succeeds in portraying the various bubbles people live in and where and how they might find common ground, though the story can sometimes feel didactic: Martin's first-person narrative explains his way of experiencing the world, and his mother, sister, and father do a lot of explaining to make their world comprehensible to him. But Martin is a likable protagonist, and the denouement--with Martin moving beyond Proust to see himself not as "an old man with regrets" but as a young man at the beginning of his life--is optimistic yet realistic. dean Schneider Copyright 2017 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Reviewed by Publishers Weekly Reviews (PW Reviews 2017 October #1)

The original narrative voice of 16-year-old Martin drives adult author Reyl's insightful and multilayered first book for teens, which brims with nostalgia, romance, complex supporting characters, and fascinating introspection. While on location in France at his mother's latest film project, Martin, a handsome American student with autism who "could almost pass for nothing more than quirky," experiences life through his "affinity" with Proust's In Search of Lost Time (Martin simply calls it Search), which "has filled me up like an empty glass for years." As Martin experiments with attending a general education summer school, he struggles to distinguish between events in Search and in his own life, as well as between "moths"—people drawn to him because of his mother's celebrity—and real friends. Martin's childhood memories, such as his parents' early distress at his diagnosis ("We thought he was so cute, and he's actually Rain Man"), blend seamlessly into the narrative, while Martin's reflections on "the neurodiversity movement," and efforts to "cure" autism raise thought-provoking ethical questions. Ages 12–up. Agent: Stéphanie Abou, Massie & McQuilkin. (Nov.)

Copyright 2017 Publishers Weekly.

Reviewed by School Library Journal Reviews (SLJ Reviews 2017 October)

Gr 7–10—For the first time in his life, Martin Dubois, a 16-year-old with autism, has an opportunity to interact with and befriend neurotypical peers. He's attending a general education school in rural France while his film- director mother shoots a movie there, and the experience for him is confusing and frustrating, but also exhilarating. It is there that he first meets Simon, his school guide, and Alice, a girl who reminds him of Gilberte from In Search of Lost Time, a classic French novel he always keeps close by. Martin's eager and endearing attempts to fit in teach him new things about relationships, including the uncomfortable revelation that other people aren't always genuine. Reyl presents Martin as having high-functioning autism with mentions of echolalia, lack of eye contact, literal thinking, and rocking and moaning as a stress response. Martin is also physically attractive, which some characters explain is why others treat him in certain ways, such as mistaking him for neurotypical. Reyl tries to present Martin's atypical mannerisms authentically through first-person narration, which results in the text consisting of short, straightforward sentences. The lens of his social and emotional intelligence also results in secondary characters that lack depth, despite the author's attempts to hint at further development beyond Martin's perspective. In addition, Martin makes mistakes with using the wrong pronouns when stressed, which is not explained to readers until much later. These confusing details, as well as the somewhat improbable and unrelatable setting, may present barriers to some. VERDICT This overall sweet but challening story is an additional purchase.—Alea Perez, Westmont Public Library, IL

Copyright 2017 School Library Journal.