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Please Don't Hug Me

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A funny-serious own-voices story about what happens when you stop trying to be the person other people expect you to be and give yourself a go. Erin is looking forward to Schoolies, at least she thinks she is. But things are not going to plan. Life is getting messy, and for Erin, who is autistic, that’s a big problem. She’s lost her job at Surf Zone after an incident that c A funny-serious own-voices story about what happens when you stop trying to be the person other people expect you to be and give yourself a go. Erin is looking forward to Schoolies, at least she thinks she is. But things are not going to plan. Life is getting messy, and for Erin, who is autistic, that’s a big problem. She’s lost her job at Surf Zone after an incident that clearly was not her fault. Her driving test went badly even though she followed the instructions perfectly. Her boyfriend is not turning out to be the romantic type. And she’s missing her brother, Rudy, who left almost a year ago. But now that she’s writing letters to him, some things are beginning to make just a tiny bit of sense.


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A funny-serious own-voices story about what happens when you stop trying to be the person other people expect you to be and give yourself a go. Erin is looking forward to Schoolies, at least she thinks she is. But things are not going to plan. Life is getting messy, and for Erin, who is autistic, that’s a big problem. She’s lost her job at Surf Zone after an incident that c A funny-serious own-voices story about what happens when you stop trying to be the person other people expect you to be and give yourself a go. Erin is looking forward to Schoolies, at least she thinks she is. But things are not going to plan. Life is getting messy, and for Erin, who is autistic, that’s a big problem. She’s lost her job at Surf Zone after an incident that clearly was not her fault. Her driving test went badly even though she followed the instructions perfectly. Her boyfriend is not turning out to be the romantic type. And she’s missing her brother, Rudy, who left almost a year ago. But now that she’s writing letters to him, some things are beginning to make just a tiny bit of sense.

30 review for Please Don't Hug Me

  1. 5 out of 5

    C.G. Drews

    The way this book was so real and raw and beautiful!! It is exceptional 😪 I am struggling with word son how much it means to me. It's the kind of book you pick up when you want to see autism truthfully captured on page, the hard parts but also not turning it into a tragedy to be fixed. Erin is ERIN and, as Rudy says, she's limited edition. She should never want to change that. This is the kind of #ownvoices story I wish more people could read so they'd understand autism. I'm just tired of hearing The way this book was so real and raw and beautiful!! It is exceptional 😪 I am struggling with word son how much it means to me. It's the kind of book you pick up when you want to see autism truthfully captured on page, the hard parts but also not turning it into a tragedy to be fixed. Erin is ERIN and, as Rudy says, she's limited edition. She should never want to change that. This is the kind of #ownvoices story I wish more people could read so they'd understand autism. I'm just tired of hearing all the ways I'm getting stuff wrong. I'm always 'miscommunicating' or 'misunderstanding' or 'overreacting' or 'underreacting'. Maybe other people should put as much consideration into their communications with me as I do with them. It's all I freaking think about sometimes. Did I say the wrong thing? Did I misread the situation? Should I have asked that person more about the thing they are upset about, or do they not want to talk? Is sharing my experience of a similar thing helpful or making it all about me? It's exhausting. I am exhuasted. The way it talked about autism burnout, how we lose sense of self due to masking so hard, how we are trained to cater for the neurotypical world while they don't cater for us. The longing to belong, but constantly standing on the outside looking in. The moment when Erin describes that watching social situations is like seeing them through a glass wall -- like YES. It's told in letters, and it's also a story of dysfunctional families, grief, finishing school, and the future. It's very coming-of-age. Erin's navigating some intense things, but in a roundabout and also surpressed way, so we as the reader don't know all that's happening up front. I do love letter formats! I missed that it didn't have much dialogue (Erin is writing to her older brother, Rudy) but the stream-of-consciousness style was perfect for the story. And like so many neurodiverse teen feels. Erin is scared and dreading Schoolies (this is such an aussie thing omg) and figuring out her future. There's friendships deteriorating and confusing feels about romance. It's defnitely a slice of life sort of story, and I loved that about it. My heart also got solidly hit, and it's impossible to leave without feeling emotional. This story is introspective, utterly realistic, and full of heart. It's everything I hoped it would be. And now I want a donut and NOT a hug and I love that Erin would understand. A label is fine in the hands of the person wearing it, it's when someone else takes it and uses it without understanding what it actually means I wonder if it's really so good at all. I've got rocks in my stomach and I'm only half-tuned in all the time. Things seem to be happening behind a pan of glass, so I can see them but I can't reach out and touch them.

  2. 4 out of 5

    ♠ Tabi⁷ ♠

    the title of this book is something I want on a t-shirt

  3. 4 out of 5

    Tamsien West (Babbling Books)

    I loved this book! It is a story that so perfectly captures how difficult it is to bee a teenager at the end of high school, grappling with big changes that are universal, but also the specific challenges that the protagonist experiences as an Autistic person. This book reminded me of all the reasons why I am glad that YA fiction in general, and Aussie YA in particular, exists. There are so many ways I saw myself on these pages, and so many more ways that someone who is a neuro-divergent teen mi I loved this book! It is a story that so perfectly captures how difficult it is to bee a teenager at the end of high school, grappling with big changes that are universal, but also the specific challenges that the protagonist experiences as an Autistic person. This book reminded me of all the reasons why I am glad that YA fiction in general, and Aussie YA in particular, exists. There are so many ways I saw myself on these pages, and so many more ways that someone who is a neuro-divergent teen might too. These stories matter. Everyone's story matters. And when it is told with so much compassion, humour and warmth, it is a joy to behold. I also think this is an example of how own-voices stories have real power. There was something about the protagonists internal voice that felt authentic, unflinching, symapthetic, and unapologetic. The take away message was that it's more than ok to be wholly yourself.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kelly (Diva Booknerd)

    Please Don't Hug Me is compulsory reading. Narrated from the perspective of seventeen year old Erin as she shares her thoughts in a series of letters to her brother Rudy. Rudy was a popular young man and after a disagreement with his parents, escaped the confines of the family home and the expectations of his parents. Five year old Oliver barely remembers his brother, their mother is consumed by keeping her family together while their father searches for understanding at the local tavern, drowni Please Don't Hug Me is compulsory reading. Narrated from the perspective of seventeen year old Erin as she shares her thoughts in a series of letters to her brother Rudy. Rudy was a popular young man and after a disagreement with his parents, escaped the confines of the family home and the expectations of his parents. Five year old Oliver barely remembers his brother, their mother is consumed by keeping her family together while their father searches for understanding at the local tavern, drowning his sorrows in alcohol. Erin is an intelligent and incredible young woman, navigating a neurotypical environment from the perspective of a person on the spectrum and sharing her intimate, analytical, and often tumultuous thoughts on life, love, friends, family and autism. Erin begins her correspondence as she prepares to look for casual employment, leaving her previous position feeling misunderstood and underappreciated, resulting in an outburst. For Erin, feeling emotional and overwhelmed are two instances in which her psychologist encourages her to practice being present in the moment, while Erin keeps a secret list of her indiscretions each day to release her tension and as she enters her final year of school, Rudy is missing her important milestones. Beyond her family, Erin has only confided in two friends of her diagnosis, her best friend since childhood Dee and her boyfriend, the disappointing Mitch. Dee is friendly, created from sunshine and laughter and understands when Erin is feeling overwhelmed, arming herself with doughnuts and waiting on her doorstep. Dee is charming, lighthearted and a young woman also finding her place in the world but her friendship with Erin wasn't always a positive influence on Erin's mental health. Especially at school, allowing her friends to make Erin feel uncomfortable. Her friendship is important to Erin but also restricted her personal growth as she transitioned into adulthood. As Erin begins in her new position at a clothing store predominantly for seniors, she develops a friendship with Agnus, an Indigenous, Quandamooka young woman, musician and activist who endures depression. Aggie is a wonderful influence on Erin, allowing her to guide their friendship so she feels comfortable, offering support and understanding. In comparison to her friendship with Dee, their friendship signified a new and exciting chapter of life for Erin. Throughout her letters, we see Erin grow in confidence, learning to care for herself and others and coping mechanisms. Please Don't Hug Me encourages awareness of those on the spectrum, empathy and the mentality from neurotypical society. Observing our environment through the thoughts of Erin was remarkable and profoundly intimate, navigating social situations, employment, her education and friendships and relationships. It was beautiful, poignant and an incredibly important read, as neurological conditions are rarely discussed in young adult literature. Sincere, unflinching and achingly beautiful, Please Don't Hug Me is an exceptional and remarkable debut

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jeann (Happy Indulgence)

    An own voices contemporary about the difficulties and inner thought processes of a teenage girl diagnosed with ASD. This is the best contemporary I've read all year! The character voice was so raw, honest and vivid. Full review to come. An own voices contemporary about the difficulties and inner thought processes of a teenage girl diagnosed with ASD. This is the best contemporary I've read all year! The character voice was so raw, honest and vivid. Full review to come.

  6. 4 out of 5

    K.

    Trigger warnings: (view spoiler)[death of a sibling, drowning, grief (hide spoiler)] This was something of a slow burn for me. The epistolic nature of the story worked well, but it reminded me a little too much of John Marsden's Letters From the Inside, in that it seemed obvious that there was a lot Erin was leaving out of her letters. That said, there's a ton of humour in the story - I howled with laughter over Erin's driving test - and I really liked all the characters and the way that friendsh Trigger warnings: (view spoiler)[death of a sibling, drowning, grief (hide spoiler)] This was something of a slow burn for me. The epistolic nature of the story worked well, but it reminded me a little too much of John Marsden's Letters From the Inside, in that it seemed obvious that there was a lot Erin was leaving out of her letters. That said, there's a ton of humour in the story - I howled with laughter over Erin's driving test - and I really liked all the characters and the way that friendships grow and change over the course of the story. So while the pacing wasn't as fast as I would have liked, I ultimately had a lot of fun and a lot of feelings while reading it. One brief spoilery thought: (view spoiler)[What is it about LoveOzYA books and stories about brothers who've drowned??? This is the FIFTH LoveOzYA contemporary that I've read about a teenage girl grieving the loss of her brother by drowning and, like, I know our home is girt by sea but maybe let's try and find another way to kill teenage boys, yeah? (hide spoiler)]

  7. 5 out of 5

    Bethany

    Please note, this review comes from my point of view as an autistic. I can count on one hand the number of books that have made me cry. Please Don't Hug Me just became one of them. Please Don't Hug Me is kind of like the tv show Atypical, if Atypical was in book form and actually had good autistic representation. It was the perfect example of what it's like being autistic in high school. Obviously, autism is a spectrum so no two experiences of autism are going to be the same, but Please Don't Hu Please note, this review comes from my point of view as an autistic. I can count on one hand the number of books that have made me cry. Please Don't Hug Me just became one of them. Please Don't Hug Me is kind of like the tv show Atypical, if Atypical was in book form and actually had good autistic representation. It was the perfect example of what it's like being autistic in high school. Obviously, autism is a spectrum so no two experiences of autism are going to be the same, but Please Don't Hug Me did a really great job at detailing some of the struggles autistics experience on a daily basis. Kerr's descriptions of autism & autistic traits were incredibly detailed, accurate and relatable. It was probably the best description of meltdowns (or outbursts, as Erin calls them) that I've seen, depicting the articulation at the frustration towards neurotypical friends and family. Erin's high school experience was so much like mine that it's eerie - the nice/mean friends, working at an 'old person' shop, the formal experience (I had a meltdown in the bathroom, luckily enough I did have some great friends), failing the driving test because the instructor gave bad instructions, siblings that don't understand, taking in another kid for a time and parents that aren't really accepting of her autism. And in more recent years, drinking to help you make small talk and be better in social situations, but then experiencing a low over the next few days, questioning if you were too loud, talked too much, etc. It was great to see the high school experience depicted from an autistic POV, and honestly, I think this book should be required reading in all Australian high schools. Please Don't Hug Me also contained the best description I'd seen of explaining why many autistics aren't 'out' as autistic amongst their friends, family, or at school/work, detailing that while labels can be helpful, they can also be harmful when outsiders twist them without actually understanding them (which unfortunately happens all too often with autism). “Sometimes I think it would be easier if everyone knew that some things are really easy for me but others are really hard. But then I think, it’s no one else’s business and I don’t owe anyone an apology or an explanation. Everyone has their stuff, and people don’t seem to want to talk about theirs so why should I be the only one? And then sometimes I wonder if I should even have this diagnosis, because it makes it seem like ‘normal’ people are on one side of the room and ‘abnormal’ people are over the other, when really it’s more of a whole range of different brains than a binary thing. I’m rambling now but you know what I mean. A label is fine in the hands of the person wearing it, it’s when someone else takes it and uses it without understanding what it actually means I wonder if it’s really so good at all.” and perfectly summed up the autistic experience of dealing with your emotions differently to other people, and having to mask “Your emotions have always been more obvious than mine. I have to perform mine in a way that isn’t real to me in order for people to believe them.” I don't typically like the epistolary (letter) format, but it worked really well in this case. It gave a great insight into Erin's mind, whilst still allowing for a lot of mystery in terms of the plot (and Rudy). The 14th September letter detailing an outburst and its aftermath, and how Erin is different on the outside to the inside - who people think she is isn't who she actually is - had me fighting back tears. It was an incredibly accurate depiction, and I felt seen. I think Please Don't Hug Me would be enjoyable to neuro-divergent and neuro-typical alike, as Erin goes through her final year in high school, with friendships, romance, exams, schoolies, and the struggle of being a teenager trying to find your place in the world. I hope there's going to be a sequel, as although the book definitely ended, there are still elements I want to know more about - Tom, Matt and Damo, Skyscraper Simon (a potential romance, perhaps?), Amy, her parents, and Erin's future. Erin still has more stories to tell, and I want to read them!!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Karys McEwen

    What a perfectly titled book for our times! Please Don't Hug Me is an Own Voices narrative that focuses on Erin, a year 12 student who is autistic. Things are not going to plan: she's lost her part-time job, her driving test went badly and her boyfriend is a bit of an asshole. Mostly though, she's missing her brother Rudy. The story is told through the letters Erin writes Rudy, keeping him up to date on the messiness of her life. This is a perfect coming-of-age story that takes a relatable ride What a perfectly titled book for our times! Please Don't Hug Me is an Own Voices narrative that focuses on Erin, a year 12 student who is autistic. Things are not going to plan: she's lost her part-time job, her driving test went badly and her boyfriend is a bit of an asshole. Mostly though, she's missing her brother Rudy. The story is told through the letters Erin writes Rudy, keeping him up to date on the messiness of her life. This is a perfect coming-of-age story that takes a relatable ride through that journey of finding your place in the world. Older teenagers are bound to fall in love with the story and the writing. Kay Kerr gives authentic insight into the mind of a teenager who is both on the autism spectrum, and on the cusp of adulthood.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Carly Findlay

    Our first book for the #DisabilityReads book club with Tash (Jouljet) and me was Kay Kerr’s Please Dont Hug Me. It’s an #OwnVoices YA novel about Erin, who is navigating late teenagehood, year 12, a part time job, a bit of a dysfunctional family, friendships and a rather disappointing boyfriend. Erin is autistic - and Kay is also autistic. The book is in letter format, which I liked - it reminded me of some m books I’d read as a young person - Judy Blume and John Marsden come to mind. The letter Our first book for the #DisabilityReads book club with Tash (Jouljet) and me was Kay Kerr’s Please Dont Hug Me. It’s an #OwnVoices YA novel about Erin, who is navigating late teenagehood, year 12, a part time job, a bit of a dysfunctional family, friendships and a rather disappointing boyfriend. Erin is autistic - and Kay is also autistic. The book is in letter format, which I liked - it reminded me of some m books I’d read as a young person - Judy Blume and John Marsden come to mind. The letters are to Erin’s older brother Rudy, and like Tash, I was intrigued to know where he was. There were some really poignant lines about identity and pride, which made me so happy. Erin wrote “Without ASD there is no me, because it’s as much a part of who I am as my skin or my blood.” I can definitely see that autistic readers will have many lightbulb moments reading this, and readers who aren’t autistic (especially parents of autistic children)will learn a lot. At times I felt the book read a little like a laundry list of Autism symptoms - which is understandable when writing to explain disability to a wide audience. But I think that this will make autistic readers relate with Erin a lot. I wasn’t keen on the appearance related nicknames - like Freckly Ben, Pointy Kathy and Jessica Rabbit. While I understand this might have been a way Erin managed to recognise people, as an appearance activist, I fear this adds to appearance related stigma and ridicule, even though perhaps unintentional. (Kay wrote an explanation about the appearance related nicknames on my Instagram post about the book, saying “Thank you so much for sharing the considered review and beautiful pic! I can understand your feelings about the appearance nicknames. My choice to include them reflected my own struggles with prosopagnosia and trying to find ways to remember people. I don’t say that as a defence or excuse, but as an explanation that perhaps someone reading might recognize in themselves or an autistic family member. And I do take your point on stigma and ridicule on board. Thank you again ❤️”) I also loved the cover - so bright and eye catching. When I went to have a photo with this book in Readings (I had lent my copy out at the time), another customer was asking for it too - to give to their 15 year old newly diagnosed autistic relative. I’m so glad this book is available for people who need to see themselves in literature. This is an important book for autistic writers and readers alike. It’s a celebration of autism, and also the power of positive supports. I’m excited to see what Kay writes next.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Julie (Bookish.Intoxication)

    This was such a unique and refreshing read. I was immediately drawn to it because of the female ASD voice. ASD is something close to my heart and Kerr delivered something so wonderful. A depiction of what its like to live seeing the world differently and not being able to have anyone see it the way you do. I loved the way that this book was delivered. It felt more personal and you could see Erin growing with each new letter. A great read.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Lais

    the fact the protagonist finds comfort in starting A BLOG🗣🗣🗣

  12. 4 out of 5

    Angourie Rice

    A tender and heart-warming debut novel about grief, autism, and finishing year 12. I liked the fun and relatable epistolary writing style, but I wish there had been more dialogue scenes. Can't wait to see what Kerr does next. A tender and heart-warming debut novel about grief, autism, and finishing year 12. I liked the fun and relatable epistolary writing style, but I wish there had been more dialogue scenes. Can't wait to see what Kerr does next.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Bec

    This book just feels so so important, I cried and I laughed so much. this was a heart-warming and impactful coming-of-age story with a strong focus on family, grief, and identity. It is an #ownvoices novel about Erin, a 17-year-old with ASD. I haven't read as many books as I would like with MC's on the autism spectrum, but from what I have read, this book felt the most real. There was nothing robotic or insincere about Erin (sorry, I'm looking at you The Rosie Project (even if that's not a confi This book just feels so so important, I cried and I laughed so much. this was a heart-warming and impactful coming-of-age story with a strong focus on family, grief, and identity. It is an #ownvoices novel about Erin, a 17-year-old with ASD. I haven't read as many books as I would like with MC's on the autism spectrum, but from what I have read, this book felt the most real. There was nothing robotic or insincere about Erin (sorry, I'm looking at you The Rosie Project (even if that's not a confirmed ASD character)). This also felt very impactful to me, as I have a younger sister with ASD. Although no two people on the spectrum are alike, it warmed my heart reading about someone who she might be able to relate to, and when she's old enough to read this book she might feel seen.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Becca Fitzpatrick (bookscandlescats)

    This was one of my most anticipated books of the year, and I have to say that it was even better than I'd hoped! It's an AMAZING coming of age story that I think everyone should read. The protagonist Erin has been diagnosed with autism. I love the openness and reality of living with the condition that we get to experience in letters she has written to her brother. I found myself relating to this story and her thought process in more ways than one. It's a hilarious, relatable and sometimes devasta This was one of my most anticipated books of the year, and I have to say that it was even better than I'd hoped! It's an AMAZING coming of age story that I think everyone should read. The protagonist Erin has been diagnosed with autism. I love the openness and reality of living with the condition that we get to experience in letters she has written to her brother. I found myself relating to this story and her thought process in more ways than one. It's a hilarious, relatable and sometimes devastating novel that I'm so glad to have read. Thank you so much to Text Publishing for sending me a copy of this book to review.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Natasha (jouljet)

    Erin is in her last year of high school, and dealing with so many big things as people do in that year, and then some. Her brother is not there, and she is navigating the world through her internal processing and understanding as someone on the autism spectrum. Written as letters to Rudy, her brother, Erin reviews and thinks through so many of the difficult things she is experiencing - her conversations with teachers and other kids at school, the tension between her parents, her part time job, he Erin is in her last year of high school, and dealing with so many big things as people do in that year, and then some. Her brother is not there, and she is navigating the world through her internal processing and understanding as someone on the autism spectrum. Written as letters to Rudy, her brother, Erin reviews and thinks through so many of the difficult things she is experiencing - her conversations with teachers and other kids at school, the tension between her parents, her part time job, her boyfriend, the buzz about things like the formal and Schoolies coming up that she doesn't really care about, plus her own internal voice and feelings, and challenges in letting these feelings be felt. I was a bit distracted by where or what's happened to Rudy, reading through. My mind was jumping to all sorts of possibilities! So of course, that led to compelling reading. In so many fiction books I have read about autism, I have always wondered about the actual representation, but this time knowing this was an #OwnVoices (in that Kay received her ASD diagnosis when this book was still a draft) writer, the insight into autistic thought processes, ruminating and navigating the learned social rules was so powerful.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Zahlia

    more books with autistic characters written by autistic authors please and thank you :)

  17. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    I’m elated that I have finally had the chance to read ‘Please Don’t Hug Me.’ When I first heard the title, I knew it would be something that resonates – one of my last pieces of writing in tertiary education had a similar title and there’s always something about titles. “I didn’t have control over my words or my face or my body. That’s what outbursts do; they take over my brain and make me say the truth” ( (14-15). Kerr’s novel is a gorgeous epistolary piece where Erin is sending letters to her a I’m elated that I have finally had the chance to read ‘Please Don’t Hug Me.’ When I first heard the title, I knew it would be something that resonates – one of my last pieces of writing in tertiary education had a similar title and there’s always something about titles. “I didn’t have control over my words or my face or my body. That’s what outbursts do; they take over my brain and make me say the truth” ( (14-15). Kerr’s novel is a gorgeous epistolary piece where Erin is sending letters to her absent brother Rudy. We follow Erin’s final year of school as she explores dating, working and the upcoming schoolies adventure whilst also trying to ease the impact of her autism on each of these things. Kerr’s letter writing walks in circles and linked tangents that give Erin an incredibly relatable voice. The way that each letter reads matches how I think, and for a few moments I forgot that I was reading Erin’s story because it felt like my own head. “I’m sure you would have had some good things to say. You’ve always worn the things that make you different like a badge of honour, like they’re the things that have shaped you” (146). This was a pure first read and made me feel at home in myself. ‘Please Don’t Hug Me’ is a gentle reminder to do the things that make you comfortable and safe. Remember to take your time, and listen to yourself.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Chelsea R.H.

    This book was incredibly cute, and fluffy and relatable. Basically, I really enjoyed this book. It was so easy to root for Erin and to want her to enjoy and win at life. I also loved Aggie. The plot was pretty basic, and it was definitely one of those meandering coming of age type stories. Those aren't usually my thing, but Erin was so likeable and I was so invested in her that I was completely sucked into the story. It was an Ownvoices story about autism and while I can't speak directly on how " This book was incredibly cute, and fluffy and relatable. Basically, I really enjoyed this book. It was so easy to root for Erin and to want her to enjoy and win at life. I also loved Aggie. The plot was pretty basic, and it was definitely one of those meandering coming of age type stories. Those aren't usually my thing, but Erin was so likeable and I was so invested in her that I was completely sucked into the story. It was an Ownvoices story about autism and while I can't speak directly on how "good" that aspect of the story was, I've seen so many autistic book bloggers talking about how much this story meant to them and the whole book felt like it was written with a lot of passion and love. It definitely was not a cookie cutter "inspirational" and "gifted" savant story. And it was Australian. Bonus points. Overall, I really enjoyed it and it goes on the list of favourite YA contemporaries.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jaclyn

    I love good representations of neurodiversity and reading about people who experience and process the world in different ways. I also love book merch and will always be sad I didn’t get a Normal People T-shirt. I did feel the form limited this book a little and I would have loved for a section to break out of the epistolary form. But it provided unique and immediate insights into what it feels like to be an autistic teenager in a neurotypical world and that is incredibly important and much neede I love good representations of neurodiversity and reading about people who experience and process the world in different ways. I also love book merch and will always be sad I didn’t get a Normal People T-shirt. I did feel the form limited this book a little and I would have loved for a section to break out of the epistolary form. But it provided unique and immediate insights into what it feels like to be an autistic teenager in a neurotypical world and that is incredibly important and much needed.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Trisha

    Talking about this on the radio this week. It's a powerful delivery of a great message. With all the feels. Talking about this on the radio this week. It's a powerful delivery of a great message. With all the feels.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Epstein

    I adored this story about an autistic teenage girl navigating her final few months of high school (and so much more) told in letter form to her absent brother, Rudy. Erin’s honest, authentic voice drew me in as she makes sense of the world through her friends, family, mishaps and new understandings during a significant period of change in her life. A fabulous read! #LoveOzYA

  22. 4 out of 5

    Katherine

    That title

  23. 5 out of 5

    Brittany

    The Unofficial Slogan of 2020, Please Don’t Hug Me by Kay Kerr is a lovely story about a young Australian girl on the brink of finishing high school and heading out into the big wide world. On top of navigating her way through final exams and being able to think about nothing but Schoolies, Erin is on the autism spectrum and experiences the world differently. Aaaaand just when we thought that Erin’s life couldn’t get more complicated, the story is told as letters that she is writing to her older The Unofficial Slogan of 2020, Please Don’t Hug Me by Kay Kerr is a lovely story about a young Australian girl on the brink of finishing high school and heading out into the big wide world. On top of navigating her way through final exams and being able to think about nothing but Schoolies, Erin is on the autism spectrum and experiences the world differently. Aaaaand just when we thought that Erin’s life couldn’t get more complicated, the story is told as letters that she is writing to her older brother Rudy, who left home a year ago and no one has heard from since. Side note for international readers: Schoolies is a holiday that secondary school leavers go on after they’ve finished exams. The most popular destination being Queensland’s Gold Coast, close to where this book is set, but anywhere that you can go with friends and spend days drinking and partying will suffice! I give this book 3.5 stars (4 stars on GoodReads because of no half-star function) and here’s a summary of my favourite parts:  There are a couple of characters who are from minority groups. Erin is on the autism spectrum, and her friend Aggie is a Quandamooka woman. Both characters represent two groups who are under represented in literary works, as well as TV, movies, magazines… basically any media you can think of. It was really refreshing to have these two characters in the novel and experience things through their eyes. There were struggles that were discussed that I wouldn’t have even thought were problematic courtesy of my white privilege. An eye-opener for younger readers.  The format of the novel made it a physically easy read. The story is told through the letters that Erin writes to her brother Rudy. So instead of it being a traditional chapter, each ‘chapter’ (for lack of better word) starts with ‘Dear Rudy’, has a natural narrative flow to it, and then finishes with ‘Love, Erin’. These letters are short and make it easy to get through letters/chapters that aren’t overwhelmingly long. For this reason, it might also be appealing for those who maybe don’t enjoy reading too much or get overwhelmed by long, heavy chapters.  There are some lovely moments where everyone learns something about themselves. Throughout this book, there were so many times that I would come across a sentence that completely and utterly resonated with me and I felt it was written just for me to discover and be touched by. My favourite part was when Erin talks about wearing clothing like armour and that fashion isn’t something that is frivolous and vain. When I read this, I just felt a little bubble of joy in my heart, because it helped me understand something about myself that I was self-conscious about; wearing pretty clothing is my armour! I wear it with pride, and dressing a certain way makes me happy! There are so many other parts of the story that (I hope for others) carry a similar sentiment, and as a reader it’s these little moments which make reading worth it!  It shows a different way of living with grief. Don’t worry, I’m not giving away any spoilers, but Erin and her family are grieving after the sudden change that has happened to their family after Rudy leaves and doesn’t make contact. Their relationships are all altered, no one quite knows how to discuss it with each other, everyone has their own way of coping, and there is strain on her parents’ marriage. These are all very real things that happen when individuals and families are grieving, and in this story, it sort of happens not in the traditional “stages of grief” pattern (despair, bargaining, anger etc.). As much as I enjoyed this book, there’s a couple of other feelings that I had about this story:  I felt that the timeline was too rushed. Whilst I know that learning important life lessons is totally subjective and can’t really be measured, I felt that it all happened a little too quickly for Erin. Erin writes the first letter to her brother in August, and the last letter she sends to him is in November (there is a very brief sort if follow up letter sent in January, which felt more like the conclusion of the story, sort of like an epilogue). In those short 3-4 months, she copes with a horrible experience in the workplace, find a new job and settles into that very easily, has a lot of different thought and plans for what she wants to do after high school (both with Schoolies and continuing her studies), the relationship with her best friend since childhood changes dramatically, she gets another best friend, and she’s still learning to live without her older brother living at home and all of the changing family dynamics that come with that. I felt that it was a lot to pack into four months for a coming-of-age story. I feel like it would’ve been a bit more relatable and believable if it were spread out a bit more over maybe a longer time frame.  Things appear to have worked out a bit too well for Erin. Honestly… it was too cliched and fairy-tale. I felt like it should’ve had a bit more drama and more ups and downs than it did. Erin appeared to have learned her lessons too quickly for any teenager going through the amount of turmoil and big life events. For that reason, I felt it was a bit boring and too juvenile for a coming-of-age story to really have any impact and teach the reader a truly valuable lesson that resonates with them after they finish. Overall, a pleasant weekend read. Whilst overall it seemed a bit rushed and a bit too fairy-tale-ish for my liking, there were a couple of great female characters from minority groups as well as some lovely moments for the reader where you find that one sentence that perfectly describes how you feel. Best enjoyed with some fresh cinnamon donuts from Donut King!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Rachael (shereadsshenoms)

    This is a wonderful #LoveOzYA own voices story, which I picked up belatedly for #DisabilityReads hosted by Carly Findlay (@carlyfindlay) and Tash (@jouljet) over on Instagram. It is a YA novel about stumbling into adulthood and facing that terrifying precipice of finishing high school, staring down the rest of your life and all the choices that that means. It's a meditation on grief and navigating social conventions and expectations. It's about all of those things through the eyes of 17 year old This is a wonderful #LoveOzYA own voices story, which I picked up belatedly for #DisabilityReads hosted by Carly Findlay (@carlyfindlay) and Tash (@jouljet) over on Instagram. It is a YA novel about stumbling into adulthood and facing that terrifying precipice of finishing high school, staring down the rest of your life and all the choices that that means. It's a meditation on grief and navigating social conventions and expectations. It's about all of those things through the eyes of 17 year old Erin, an autistic girl who owns that label but questions how others weaponise it. I'm not always a fan of epistolary novels, but in the case of this novel Erin's letters to her absent brother were a great vehicle for insight into her mind: what she calls her 'brain wiring', and her brother calls her 'limited edition'. I liked the way that Kerr threw in references to Erin's worries about climate change, systemic racism and other global issues that no doubt plague the minds of present day teens. It made me feel for today's generations of teens, being more plugged in and switched on then ever before. When I was a teen—eons ago—I was self-absorbed and didn't give much thought to the world outside of how it affected me personally. My teenage existential dread was a tad more uninformed, ha! I was left wanting more from some of the supporting cast, and while this wrapped up nicely I would 100% read a sequel where Erin heads to Uni [more Aggie please], and/or a romance storyline with Skyscraper Simon [don't tell me there wasn't some hidden chemistry there]!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kahlia

    As a novel, this wasn’t necessarily for me - I didn’t really engage with the epistolary style (the whole story is told through letters to Erin’s older brother, Rudy) or care about any of the characters except Erin (and Aggie, who seemed cool). Having also grown up in Queensland, I did love and relate to some of the unique things in this book - the ridiculousness of the QCS test, the ultra-obsession with Schoolies, the references to how touchy people get during State of Origin. But otherwise, thi As a novel, this wasn’t necessarily for me - I didn’t really engage with the epistolary style (the whole story is told through letters to Erin’s older brother, Rudy) or care about any of the characters except Erin (and Aggie, who seemed cool). Having also grown up in Queensland, I did love and relate to some of the unique things in this book - the ridiculousness of the QCS test, the ultra-obsession with Schoolies, the references to how touchy people get during State of Origin. But otherwise, this wasn’t a bad book, it just wasn’t to my particular taste. But it still deserves a high rating because the autism rep is fantastic - a real testament to the importance of ownvoices authors in disability as elsewhere. Erin’s autism is just another part of her - she certainly doesn’t spend all her time dwelling on it - but it very clearly colours her perceptions of people and events. Sometimes I feel like fiction about neurodiverse people feels the need to remind you of how “unique” the characters are with every sentence to the point that it seem like a caricature of what the author thinks having a disability might be like, but this was very deftly balanced - Erin is so much more than her autism, but her autism is an inescapable part of her existence. (I wish we’d seen more of how her parents coped because I couldn’t tell if they were genuinely struggling with helping her or just awful at times, but that’s a minor point).

  26. 4 out of 5

    Molly - bookgirlbetweenthepages

    Review: Please Don’t Hug Me by Kay Kerr ⭐️⭐️⭐️✨ . This book was a wonderful own voices story that I can’t believe I didn’t read earlier! The story follows our MC, in her final year of high school, through a series diary entries addressed to her brother. I loved the use of the diary entries! I think they really allowed for a more personal touch to the story and allowed for a deeper insight into the MC, especially with how she’s trying to navigate high school with autism and keep that a private fact Review: Please Don’t Hug Me by Kay Kerr ⭐️⭐️⭐️✨ . This book was a wonderful own voices story that I can’t believe I didn’t read earlier! The story follows our MC, in her final year of high school, through a series diary entries addressed to her brother. I loved the use of the diary entries! I think they really allowed for a more personal touch to the story and allowed for a deeper insight into the MC, especially with how she’s trying to navigate high school with autism and keep that a private fact from her peers in fear of how she will be perceived. We saw her inner most thoughts and feelings in an authentic way, that I don’t think would have been displayed had the story not been written in this form. . I also really enjoyed how each entry was addressed to her brother, however, he was absent from the story that filled each entry. I had so many questions and thoughts surrounding her brothers character and where he may have been in the story. Little pieces of information are released throughout the story until eventually it is specifically said where he is. This hidden info had me hooked and wanting to know more about this character, as well as the other characters featured and how they have been impacted by his absence. This is a wonderfully composed Australian own voices story that I highly recommend everyone go pick up now.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Bec

    I’m guilty of purchasing this book because of its cover and it was a sweet surprise, pun Intended. Each chapter is a letter Erin writes to her brother Rudy. She talks about her days her struggles and missing him. Erin struggles with social interactions, being over stimulated and not reading people as she has autism. I am fascinated with the way her autism causes her to talk things she’s asked to do so literal. Erin went for her licence and the instructor asked her to go through the round about, po I’m guilty of purchasing this book because of its cover and it was a sweet surprise, pun Intended. Each chapter is a letter Erin writes to her brother Rudy. She talks about her days her struggles and missing him. Erin struggles with social interactions, being over stimulated and not reading people as she has autism. I am fascinated with the way her autism causes her to talk things she’s asked to do so literal. Erin went for her licence and the instructor asked her to go through the round about, poor Erin took it literally and mounted the roundabout believing she was doing what she was told to do. At first I thought Rudy has run away, then I thought maybe he was in jail. I just couldn’t pin point why he wasn’t responding to her. Then I figured out was dead. For Erin the emotional journey of loss was far different to most. She felt and saw things so differently. In the end she started having these small breakthroughs and less breakdowns and started to experience things outside of her conform zone knowing she would share every moment with Rudy. The thing I hate more about this brain of mine is how alone it makes me feel. I felt this on a whole other level. This book was magical and everyone will get something out of it. Thanks you for writing and sharing this masterpiece.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Madison

    This is the book that everyone is talking about right now. Honestly, I was on board with the pink cover and cinnamon doughnuts, but bonus points for #ownvoices, local Aussie author, diverse character voice representation and a realistic story about growing up, fitting in and learning that it is okay to be different. Please Don’t Hug Me is written entirely in the form of letters from our main character Erin, to her brother Rudy. We readers don’t know where or why Rudy isn’t at home anymore, but E This is the book that everyone is talking about right now. Honestly, I was on board with the pink cover and cinnamon doughnuts, but bonus points for #ownvoices, local Aussie author, diverse character voice representation and a realistic story about growing up, fitting in and learning that it is okay to be different. Please Don’t Hug Me is written entirely in the form of letters from our main character Erin, to her brother Rudy. We readers don’t know where or why Rudy isn’t at home anymore, but Erin is working through a few things and has been tasked by her therapist to write letters. Through these letters, which include enough dialogue and reflection on events to feel like you are in the middle of each situation, we readers learn about Erin’s friendships, her work, getting through the last year of school, looking forward to things like schoolies, but also feeling out of the loop as she is unable to read social cues or properly fit in with her best-friend’s group of school fiends. A new job, a new friend and working through her feelings about her brother and family, might just be the things she needs to make it through the year. Written by local Sunshine Coast woman, Kay Kerr, Please Don’t Hug Me is OzYA #OwnVoices at its best. Erin is on the autism spectrum, and while writing this book Kay Kerr was learning more about her own autism spectrum diagnosis. Erin’s voice is unique and authentic. She is also completely relatable to everyone who has experienced social anxiety, not fitting in at school or with a particular group of friends or maybe just doesn’t feel comfortable with the mainstream crowd. There are some honestly laugh out loud moments in this book. It is equally heartwarming and heartbreaking. From licence tests that go badly to changes in friendships and the moments at work for which you know you aren’t paid enough. As we learn more about Erin’s family and her brother, a deeper heartbreak and mess of feelings is revealed. Easy to read and enjoy, Please Don’t Hug Me is a delightful book. Find more reviews, reading age guides, content advisory, and recommendations on my blog Madison's Library

  29. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    Wow, this was phenomenal. I was expecting a lighthearted, coming of age story, however; this took a much darker turn and hit me right in the feels 😭 This will be sticking with me for many years to come. This was a great #ownvoices debut and I cannot wait to read more from this author. tw: (view spoiler)[ death of a sibling (in the past), drug overdose, drowning, ableism (hide spoiler)] Wow, this was phenomenal. I was expecting a lighthearted, coming of age story, however; this took a much darker turn and hit me right in the feels 😭 This will be sticking with me for many years to come. This was a great #ownvoices debut and I cannot wait to read more from this author. tw: (view spoiler)[ death of a sibling (in the past), drug overdose, drowning, ableism (hide spoiler)]

  30. 4 out of 5

    Dot

    This is a really beautifully written book about autumn’s and navigating that threshold from teenage to adult. It was written sensitively and had a gentleness about it. Even though it dealt with hard issues, the way the author did it was, indeed gentle and was not about shocking the audience but rather introducing facets of the main causes year personality and the events that changed the course of her life.

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