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Jason Blake is an autistic 12-year-old living in a neurotypical world. Most days it’s just a matter of time before something goes wrong. But Jason finds a glimmer of understanding when he comes across PhoenixBird, who posts stories to the same online site as he does. Jason can be himself when he writes and he thinks that PhoenixBird — her name is Rebecca — could be his firs Jason Blake is an autistic 12-year-old living in a neurotypical world. Most days it’s just a matter of time before something goes wrong. But Jason finds a glimmer of understanding when he comes across PhoenixBird, who posts stories to the same online site as he does. Jason can be himself when he writes and he thinks that PhoenixBird — her name is Rebecca — could be his first real friend. But as desperate as Jason is to meet her, he’s terrified that if they do meet, Rebecca will only see his autism and not who Jason really is. By acclaimed writer Nora Raleigh Baskin, this is the breathtaking depiction of an autistic boy’s struggles—and a story for anyone who has ever worried about fitting in.


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Jason Blake is an autistic 12-year-old living in a neurotypical world. Most days it’s just a matter of time before something goes wrong. But Jason finds a glimmer of understanding when he comes across PhoenixBird, who posts stories to the same online site as he does. Jason can be himself when he writes and he thinks that PhoenixBird — her name is Rebecca — could be his firs Jason Blake is an autistic 12-year-old living in a neurotypical world. Most days it’s just a matter of time before something goes wrong. But Jason finds a glimmer of understanding when he comes across PhoenixBird, who posts stories to the same online site as he does. Jason can be himself when he writes and he thinks that PhoenixBird — her name is Rebecca — could be his first real friend. But as desperate as Jason is to meet her, he’s terrified that if they do meet, Rebecca will only see his autism and not who Jason really is. By acclaimed writer Nora Raleigh Baskin, this is the breathtaking depiction of an autistic boy’s struggles—and a story for anyone who has ever worried about fitting in.

30 review for Anything But Typical

  1. 4 out of 5

    Manybooks

    Jason Blake is autistic and finds the neuro-typical world around him, but especially school, over-stimulating, often incomprehensible. Most days it is just a matter of time before something goes wrong, before he either does something or says something others find weird or inappropriate, or before one of his classmates (and sometimes even his teachers) make fun of him or react negatively to him. Jason's one solace and escape is the Storyboard website, where he can be himself, where he can write h Jason Blake is autistic and finds the neuro-typical world around him, but especially school, over-stimulating, often incomprehensible. Most days it is just a matter of time before something goes wrong, before he either does something or says something others find weird or inappropriate, or before one of his classmates (and sometimes even his teachers) make fun of him or react negatively to him. Jason's one solace and escape is the Storyboard website, where he can be himself, where he can write his stories and be creative. When Jason actually makes an online friend on the website (Phoenixbird, whose real name is Rebecca), he dares to dream that she might be his first girlfriend. But when Rebecca is going to be at the same Storyboard convention as Jason, Jason worries that once she actually meets him, she will, like most others, only see him as someone who is anything but typical. I really, really love this novel. Jason's story, Jason's insights into his world and the neuro-typical world around him touch me deeply and lastingly. That is not to say that there is not quite a bit of darkness and even potential despair present within the book; Anything But Typical is often rather sad and depressing. However, I love Jason's voice, and being inside of his head, partaking of his thoughts, his views, his feelings is not only eye-opening, it is somewhat like being inside my own head (both now and when I was at school, when I was the same age as Jason). I might as well admit to the fact that I simply hated the social game at school, especially high school. Like Jason, I was always (and often with good reason) expecting something to go wrong (and was it ever difficult to maneuver the social cliques etc. of high school, of interpersonal communication). I always thought that I was just a bit weird (and I certainly had that label thrown at me more than a few times), and I most definitely had (and still somewhat have) the unenviable ability of planting my foot firmly and deeply into my mouth. A few years ago, in my early forties, I was finally assessed as having NLD (Nonverbal Learning Disability), and some of the issues and situations experienced by Jason (not all of them, but definitely some of them) do echo, do ring a very loud bell with me. I do not believe that I am, in fact, autistic, but many of the social challenges for individuals with NLD also seem to be issues with autism (and Jason's mother calls her son's autism NLD, so there likely is a bit of a link). I so understand and can appreciate Jason's constant worry about doing something wrong (his fear of the proverbial shite hitting the fan). Basically, you are always waiting to crash and burn, and the more you try to adapt (to something you feel you cannot handle, to a world, a society that even at the best of times feels quite alien to you), the more you try to be typical, the more stress is created and the more you have the tendency to say something improper, to react in an inappropriate manner (at least according to the dictates of society, a society based and constructed on being neuro-typical, with accepted and expected modes of behaviour, training and thinking). Before writing my own review, I decided to read a number of Goodreads reviews of Anything but Typical, both positive and negative. And I find it more than a bit problematic that some reviewers actually fault author Nora Raleigh Baskin for depicting and describing the bullying behaviour Jason experiences at school. Yes, people (neuro-typical individuals) should definitely not bully and harass children with autism, NLD, Asperger's Syndrome and related conditions, but it does happen (and often). If the author had downplayed this, if she had made no mention of this, Anything But Typical would (I believe) not only have been unrealistic, it would also have trivialised the problems and issues many children (and adults) with challenges and special needs must often endure and face on a daily basis. Other reviewers had (and have) issues with the fact that many of the characters described by Jason feel rather distant and cardboard-like. For me, however, this is an ingenious narrative device, as this is precisely how the neuro-typical world often feels to an autistic person, distant and incomprehensible. The neuro-typical world does not understand Jason Blake, but conversely, he also does not understand it all that well either. The alienation Jason experiences and portrays in his musings might make some readers uncomfortable, but it serves the purpose of hopefully making them think, of making them appreciate how an autistic person (or someone with a related syndrome) might perceive the world. And for readers who have autism, Asperger's Syndrome, NLD etc., Anything but Typical provides Or at least can provide) the supportive assurance that they are not alone feeling alienated, at not understanding neuro-typical society. And finally, sadly, some reviewers actually complained that they grew tired and frustrated at being in Jason's head. However, have these individuals ever stopped to consider that Jason (and others like him) might also get tired of having to exist and function in a world that is both alien and frightening, that people with autism and related conditions might also get tired and frustrated at constantly having to be in the head-space of the neuro-typicals (it really does go both ways). I really do appreciate that Jason's meeting with Rebecca at the conference is not simply happily ever after, that it is realistic without being unduly depressing. Rebecca is not interested in being Jason's girlfriend, but she does want to keep in touch on the Storyboard website. Yes, part of me (my 12 year old self, who struggled with similar issues at that time) did want Jason and Rebecca to end up as a couple, but I respect and admire Nora Raleigh Baskin for the fact that she does not resort to a facile and feel-good ending for her story, that she has chosen to not cater to the expectations and desires for a simple, sugary happy ending type of tale. Anything But Typica ends realistically, neither sad and depressing nor entirely happy. Jason still has his writing, and he accepts himself the way he is (this is me, that is the last sentence of the novel, a statement both bold and upliftingly life affirming).

  2. 5 out of 5

    Katie Fitzgerald

    Wow. I have read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. I have read Rules, Emma-Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree, and I am halfway through Marcelo in the Real World. Books about characters who have autism have always intrigued me, and I loved every single one of the books I just mentioned. But nothing compares to Anything But Typical. This is the story of a 12 year old boy named Jason who was diagnosed with autism at the age of 8, after a long period of denial by his mother. He has few Wow. I have read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. I have read Rules, Emma-Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree, and I am halfway through Marcelo in the Real World. Books about characters who have autism have always intrigued me, and I loved every single one of the books I just mentioned. But nothing compares to Anything But Typical. This is the story of a 12 year old boy named Jason who was diagnosed with autism at the age of 8, after a long period of denial by his mother. He has few friends, but through a fanfiction website, he makes a connection with another 12 year old, a girl whose user name is PhoenixBird, and who enjoys his stories. As his relationship with PhoenixBird progresses, other things happen in his life - violent outbursts he can't explain, confusion over what his mother wants from him and why she is sad, and incidents with the other kids at school, who are frequently not understanding of Jason's condition. The entire story is told in the first person from Jason's point of view, and you become immediately immersed in his earnest, honest, and unique voice. His relationship with his 7-year-old brother, Jeremy, is one of the most touching sibling relationships I've ever read in a children's book, and his parents, understanding Dad, and overwhelmed and bewildered Mom, are extremely realistic and believable. They're not always fully accepting of their son's limitations or needs, and they struggle to understand what it is like to be him, but they also love him a great deal, and it's clear that they want to do the right thing for Jason if they can discern what that is. I cried at least four times throughout this book. The language, despite being very detached and different from the language of a traditional novel for kids, is really quite beautiful, and some of Jason's realizations about his own life read like universal truths. I had When You Reach Me pegged as the Newbery for next year when I finished it earlier today, but now I am inclined to think it's got some serious competition. This book is great. It's one of those stories where you just feel yourself settling in with it, pleased to feel not one word or detail out of place. I loved the realism and the specificity of it. Other books have taken on the point of view of an autistic person to tell the story of being autistic. This book takes on the point of view of a very specific boy and tells his story. This isn't a book about being autistic, this is a book about being yourself, whoever that is, and also about growing up and truly being that person, even when those around you sometimes don't understand why you're doing so. Absolutely brilliant. I am in love with this book.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Dave Schaafsma

    My confession is that as a father of two boys on the spectrum that I seem to be particularly hard on books about kids with autism. I think this seems on the surface ungenerous and working against the kind of solidarity one hopes for in the autism community. But here we go: I listened to this book and disliked the reader, so that's not Baskin's fault. I thought overall that it was fine. A book about an atypical neurological condition called Anything But Typical (meaning that the main boy character My confession is that as a father of two boys on the spectrum that I seem to be particularly hard on books about kids with autism. I think this seems on the surface ungenerous and working against the kind of solidarity one hopes for in the autism community. But here we go: I listened to this book and disliked the reader, so that's not Baskin's fault. I thought overall that it was fine. A book about an atypical neurological condition called Anything But Typical (meaning that the main boy character, Jason, is anything but neuro-typical. This signals that the book is no so much a novel about a young man as it is about a kid with ASD, it is about a topic: Autism. The good part of that is that the young, intended middle grade audience will be educated about how the kids that are on the spectrum think and feel. Jason is a remarkably talented writer who shares his work online, and because of some of his atypicality, is bullied, and has no friends. He thinks one girl, Rebecca, who also writes online, might be a possible friend, even girlfriend. Baskin has Jason admit early on that he is going to tell his story more in the NT way, since others might not understand the way he would depict how he REALLY thinks and feels. That's an interesting way of dealing with a real narrative problem, and not entirely satisfying for me, but I understand why she does this, given the audience. I like the depiction of the parents, the Dad as calm and supportive, and the Mom as anxious and disappointed that her son is not what she really had hoped for in a child. I also like that the story does not give the sense of "happily ever after." I like it that he is sometimes out of control and even violent in school when things do not go his way. I hate romanticized portraits of kids with autism, and this has hopeful things (how success in writing) and less than hopeful things (his rigidity, his lack of friends). Otherwise, I thought this was just solid, and hopefully useful for kids and parents who want to get some sense of how ASD kids think and feel.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Meaghan

    I think this is a pretty good portrayal of how a high-functioning autistic boy would think and act. I have Asperger's Syndrome, so they say, and although I do better than Jason I can recognize a lot of my problems in him. The conflict with the story convention is well done and I thought the ending was perfect -- hopeful, and realistic. Very good story overall, and it just might make neurotypical readers a little more sympathetic and understanding towards people with autism. I think this is a pretty good portrayal of how a high-functioning autistic boy would think and act. I have Asperger's Syndrome, so they say, and although I do better than Jason I can recognize a lot of my problems in him. The conflict with the story convention is well done and I thought the ending was perfect -- hopeful, and realistic. Very good story overall, and it just might make neurotypical readers a little more sympathetic and understanding towards people with autism.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Romie

    I know this story is mostly about Jason, about how he deals with his autism, but to me the real strength of this story lies in the minor characters. Jason's dad nearly made me cry more than once, because he knows his son has his own way to communicate and just because his way is different doesn't mean it's bad different. He's always supporting his son, making sure that everybody understands that Jason isn't stupid. Jeremy, Jason's little brother, was absolutely adorable, I just wanted to hug him d I know this story is mostly about Jason, about how he deals with his autism, but to me the real strength of this story lies in the minor characters. Jason's dad nearly made me cry more than once, because he knows his son has his own way to communicate and just because his way is different doesn't mean it's bad different. He's always supporting his son, making sure that everybody understands that Jason isn't stupid. Jeremy, Jason's little brother, was absolutely adorable, I just wanted to hug him during the entire book. He understands his brother has some boundaries, he knows when he's doing something his brother can't bare and he stops doing it, he's proud of Jason all the time and that was beautiful to read. At first I wasn't huge fan of Jason's mother, because I thought she wasn't even trying to understand her son, but who am I to judge ? I don't have a son with autism, so I don't really have a right to say that she's doing something wrong. Okay, she says some things that aren't acceptable, but I liked how at the end of the story she finally sees that the real problem isn't how Jason reacts to the world, but the way she reacts to Jason. That was a really quick read, but also really powerful. 3.5

  6. 5 out of 5

    Alexandria Coyle

    Okay, so I read this in High School a few years ago but....is the person who wrote actually Autistic, or just another neurotypical who thinks they know Autistic people better than Actually Autistic people? Because this story is just the stereotypical white boy that doesn't know how to interact with people. It doesn't even show an accurate way Autistics stim; yes, some of us rock or flap hands, but some of us hum, some of us tap our feet, and some of us even use echolalia as a stim for communicatio Okay, so I read this in High School a few years ago but....is the person who wrote actually Autistic, or just another neurotypical who thinks they know Autistic people better than Actually Autistic people? Because this story is just the stereotypical white boy that doesn't know how to interact with people. It doesn't even show an accurate way Autistics stim; yes, some of us rock or flap hands, but some of us hum, some of us tap our feet, and some of us even use echolalia as a stim for communication. Some of us wear sunglasses to help our sensitivities to light and melt-downs are NOT temper-tantrums. And yes, most of us interact a bit differently, but the majority of us at least theoretically 'get' interaction by our adult years. Ask an Actual Autistic before you write stuff like this, because otherwise you'll get nothing but incredibly offensive inspiration porn. On the Edge of Gone is better than this. Even "The Accountant" is better than this, at least they acknowledge how stimming really works for us Autistics. Autism Speaks does not speak for me and neither does this book. How do I know this? I am on the spectrum myself. I have read articles by, and talked to, many other Autistic people. I have listened to other Autistc people, regardless of what traits they may present. Please, please listen to Actually Autistic people before you decide you like a book like this one. ~A female Autistic~

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jay Pruitt

    "When I write, I can be heard. And known. But nobody has to look at me. Nobody has to see me at all." I love books which help me see with other people's eyes and hear with other people's ears. Imagine if you will the additional challenges faced daily by an autistic person, experiencing hypersensitivity to sights and sounds, and being unable to easily communicate his thoughts to those around him. The author of Anything But Typical attempts to bridge these two worlds (autistic and non-autistic) "When I write, I can be heard. And known. But nobody has to look at me. Nobody has to see me at all." I love books which help me see with other people's eyes and hear with other people's ears. Imagine if you will the additional challenges faced daily by an autistic person, experiencing hypersensitivity to sights and sounds, and being unable to easily communicate his thoughts to those around him. The author of Anything But Typical attempts to bridge these two worlds (autistic and non-autistic) by narrating from the perspective of the fictional character, Jason Blake, who is unaware of why he thinks differently and cannot easily fit in with other children. Instead, he learns that his best means of communication is writing stories. In doing so, he befriends an online companion who is also a writer. But when he learns that his friend, a girl named Rebecca, will be attending the same convention, he fears she'll no longer want to have anything to do with him when she discovers he is different. Although I recognize it would be unrealistic (and naive) to believe that all people afflicted with this condition are the same, I nonetheless felt that the book, written at a grade-school level, helped me to better understand what it may be like to deal with autism.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Haley

    This book about a 12 year old boy living life with ASD touched home. As a mother of a 12 yr. old boy with ASD I couldn't help but see my son in the main character. Told from his perspective it allowed me to see the world through his eyes for the first time. All kids on the autism spectrum are different and face their own battles, some more challenging than others. Jason, the main character, has some extreme issues and battles that my son doesn't face. However, I can see similar traits. Every per This book about a 12 year old boy living life with ASD touched home. As a mother of a 12 yr. old boy with ASD I couldn't help but see my son in the main character. Told from his perspective it allowed me to see the world through his eyes for the first time. All kids on the autism spectrum are different and face their own battles, some more challenging than others. Jason, the main character, has some extreme issues and battles that my son doesn't face. However, I can see similar traits. Every person who works with, knows or is related to a child with ASD should read this book. I have read countless books trying to gain insight to the world my son sees. I can't thank Ms. Baskin enough for the research she did and the words she wrote.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Betsy

    One Sentence Review: When I first read the book I felt relatively blase about it, but as time went on I looked back on the title and grew more and more impressed with what Raleigh was able to pull off.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Eva-Joy

    Wow! This book surprised me with how good it was because I picked it up in the kids' chapter books section of the library, so I thought it would be a light, fluffy read. And while it didn't make me cry, or anything, it was an interesting (and sometimes sobering) look at the world of autism. Anything But Typical reminded me of Wonder in a lot of ways (though, of course, Auggie's not autistic) and I'd recommend it to those who love that book. The writing was beautiful, in its own way, and the stor Wow! This book surprised me with how good it was because I picked it up in the kids' chapter books section of the library, so I thought it would be a light, fluffy read. And while it didn't make me cry, or anything, it was an interesting (and sometimes sobering) look at the world of autism. Anything But Typical reminded me of Wonder in a lot of ways (though, of course, Auggie's not autistic) and I'd recommend it to those who love that book. The writing was beautiful, in its own way, and the story grabs your interest from the first page. Though not as deep - or as long - as it could've been in the hands of, say, a YA author, it was an excellent read nonetheless. Definitely going to recommend this to a bunch of people. (And is it bad that I have to basically stick to Middle Grade books now since the YA ones are soooo full of language and bad content these days? Seriously, people?)

  11. 4 out of 5

    Tijana

    3.5 stars I've got a soft spot for little boys with disabilities. Did this make me sound like a creeper? Well, I've got a soft spot for little boys with disabilities, and I mean it in non creepy way. I just develop feeling for them easier than when it comes to any other character. And I absolutely loved this book! It was simply written, but that simplicity struck me hard. Jason would say how he blew out candles on someone else's birthday and now no one invites him to their birthday parties anymore, and 3.5 stars I've got a soft spot for little boys with disabilities. Did this make me sound like a creeper? Well, I've got a soft spot for little boys with disabilities, and I mean it in non creepy way. I just develop feeling for them easier than when it comes to any other character. And I absolutely loved this book! It was simply written, but that simplicity struck me hard. Jason would say how he blew out candles on someone else's birthday and now no one invites him to their birthday parties anymore, and I would die a little. The only thing that this book was lacking was length. I needed it to be longer, story deeper, and maybe I also wanted "they lived happily ever after" conclusion. But you don't get that in real life, after the last chapter life still goes on with all the struggles. And so it did for my little munchkin Jason.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Cami

    Let's give this a good 4.5 stars. I genuinely loved this book. It is told from the perspective of a 12 yr old Autistic boy who loves writing stories and is trying to find his way in the world of Neurotypicals. His voice rings true and I felt such an emotional connection with this character who, ironically, has a very difficult time connecting emotionally with anyone. It's probably just because I'm a mother, but I had some weepy moments at the end here. I would recommend this book to anyone. Let's give this a good 4.5 stars. I genuinely loved this book. It is told from the perspective of a 12 yr old Autistic boy who loves writing stories and is trying to find his way in the world of Neurotypicals. His voice rings true and I felt such an emotional connection with this character who, ironically, has a very difficult time connecting emotionally with anyone. It's probably just because I'm a mother, but I had some weepy moments at the end here. I would recommend this book to anyone.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Casey

    This is a great children's/middle grade book and I'd def recommend it to young readers. Anything but Typical is narrated by Jason who was diagnosed with ASD but goes to a mainstream school, we here about his school life, difficulty with teachers and peers, as well as what's going through his mind in a multitude of different situations. I love the way Jason described Neurotypicals and how NT's have there own language even when we're all speaking English. There are so many "socially acceptable" ac This is a great children's/middle grade book and I'd def recommend it to young readers. Anything but Typical is narrated by Jason who was diagnosed with ASD but goes to a mainstream school, we here about his school life, difficulty with teachers and peers, as well as what's going through his mind in a multitude of different situations. I love the way Jason described Neurotypicals and how NT's have there own language even when we're all speaking English. There are so many "socially acceptable" actions to a conversation and this book really pointed out how difficult it was to try and slot into the NT world with ASD. Jason writes on a forum like Wattpad we're he speaks to a friend who calls herself Phoenix Bird, while they have a great back and forth over email Jason hasn't told her that he has Autism and when they find out there both going to be going to a writers event Jason gets appropriately nervous and upset. While life unfolds around Jason and he deals with school and extended family he is also writing a story on Storybord that deals with the choice of fixing a disability, his story within the story is poignant and important. While his first attempt is ablest he revisits, edits, and re writes because not all stories have to end with the person being "fixed" or getting the girl to be a happy ending. if your looking for a book with a character that has Autism for your kid to read def pick this up, it's insightful, well done, and a great story.

  14. 4 out of 5

    e.c.h.a

    We never really ever see ourselves the way other people see us. I will just do the best I can. itu yang Jason pikirkan sebagai seorang penderita Nonverbal Learning Disorder.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Josiah

    "Why do people want everyone to act just like they do? Talk like they do. Look like they do. Act like they do. And if you don't— If you don't, people make the assumption that you do not feel what they feel. And then they make the assumption— That you must not feel anything at all. " — Jason Blake, Anything But Typical, P. 14 In my view, this is easily the greatest story delving into the mind of a kid whose mind operates differently than those of his peers since the acclaimed Joey Pigza Swa "Why do people want everyone to act just like they do? Talk like they do. Look like they do. Act like they do. And if you don't— If you don't, people make the assumption that you do not feel what they feel. And then they make the assumption— That you must not feel anything at all. " — Jason Blake, Anything But Typical, P. 14 In my view, this is easily the greatest story delving into the mind of a kid whose mind operates differently than those of his peers since the acclaimed Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key. Jason Blake, age twelve, is a boy with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Anything But Typical is delivered from his point of view, and from the onset of the story his personality reaches through the page and vividly latches onto the reader's imagination. The difficulties of Jason's different kind of life are not just comprised of misunderstandings with the students, teachers and other people who inhabit his days; they are the kind of issues that lead Jason down the woeful path of having no friends, of having the people that he would know and like turn their back on him every single time because it's just too much for them to cope with the idea of broaching friendship with a boy who won't look them in the eye, who has ostensible idiosyncrasies too numerous too list, whose troubles in dealing with the simplest parts of life mount up like an ever-increasing debt that can never be paid. At times in this book, Jason's story is absolutely heartbreaking. His narrative voice is so brilliantly undiluted and raw that the events he experiences and the emotional turbulence that he feels come across with sobering power even as his external appearance remains mostly the same. The thing is, Jason's mother and so many around him see his outward lack of reaction to emotional stimuli as being the same as not feeling at all; they perceive that because he doesn't talk about his feelings, he must not be feeling them. They are very wrong, though. Jason can feel the disdain leveled toward him by the outside world only too clearly. Even as he picks up new interests to pursue and dreams of finding friends out there somewhere who might like him, it always seems that it will only be a matter of time before Jason's differences from the majority of people force him in some way to give up those dreams, to discard the new hopes that continue to come his way until they will eventually dwindle, at last, to none. Anything But Typical is deeply sad, a book with the kind of profoundly discomfiting resonance that doesn't come along very often at all, but there is hope in its pages, too. As Jason's story makes itself known, he is simultaneously telling us about the stories that he has written, stories that parallel the struggles of his own life in many ways. The characters that Jason depicts allow him, to a certain extent, to explain the depth of hurt in his own life. It adds a new dimension to Jason's first-person narrative, because he has the benefit of an outside perspective in examining the life of someone sort of like himself. Anything But Typical is one of those books that I could never do justice to with my review. The vigor of its emotionally compelling power touches such utterly personal notes that it's hard to even talk about it. Like Jason, I know what it's like to have a person you like walk into a room, spot you there, and turn on their heel and leave because they want nothing to do with you anymore. To have someone you like very much dismiss you without even giving you a real chance is one of the most painful experiences that one will ever have to endure. That place where the mind replays this, where one never forgets the soul-searing depths of such hurt? That's where Jason lives. The sadness that comes through the book in these moments is intense. There are no easy resolutions or artificially convenient turning points to this book. Anything But Typical is an emotional story that I would say should absolutely not be missed. As Jason sees that the hardest parts of life often come with a clear accompanying glimmer of hope on the distant horizon, we learn alongside him the same lessons, about holding on to family and whatever else we have, preserving our hope despite anything and everything that makes us different from those around us and threatens to steal our potential for happiness. It is in the truth of this, and a willingness to accept himself for who he is in spite of it all, that ultimately allows Jason his solace. I'm very surprised that Anything But Typical escaped the notice of the 2010 Newbery Committee, actually. In my opinion it would have been an excellent and completely worthy recipient of the eighty-ninth John Newbery Medal.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Marybeth Taylor

    I've always wondered how an autistic person feels all the time. Do they think the same thoughts as we do? Have the same wants? What does it feel like to be autistic? These questions were a few of many. And after reading this book, Anything but Typical, it let me inside an autistic person's head for a short 195 pages, but it was unquestionably worth it. Jason Blake is an autistic twelve-year-old trying to struggle through middle school. Naturally he has more troubles than your average student. E I've always wondered how an autistic person feels all the time. Do they think the same thoughts as we do? Have the same wants? What does it feel like to be autistic? These questions were a few of many. And after reading this book, Anything but Typical, it let me inside an autistic person's head for a short 195 pages, but it was unquestionably worth it. Jason Blake is an autistic twelve-year-old trying to struggle through middle school. Naturally he has more troubles than your average student. Every day it's only a matter of time before he has an incident. Jason loves to write and posts his stories on an online website made exactly for that purpose. Soon Jason meets Pheonixbird, and he thinks that they could be best friends. But circumstances arrive that could cause Jason to meet Pheonixbird, whose name is Rebecca. Jason fears she'll only see his autism and not who Jason actually is. Not only did I learn all about Jason, his disablement, and all of the procedures he has to help him, I got to understand what it would feel like. I know an autistic person, and now I have a WAY better understanding of what they're going through. I can feel sympathy for them, but in the mindset that they're perfectly human and would prefer to be treated that way. This heartfelt story with its bittersweet ending was beautiful. Combining a fiction story of a middle-school boy's problems of fitting in and providing informational facts on how they're very different yet just like us was creative and extremely satisfying. I thoroughly enjoyed it and expect you will too.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Dawn

    I gave Anything But Typical as a gift to a friend who is a teacher. I thought she would enjoy a story told from the point of view of an autistic child as she minored in special education. The story line intrigued me so much I had to read Jason’s story for myself. I was impressed with Nora’s voice for a 12-yr old autistic child. I was drawn into his world & lingo instantly and, though the story had a satisfying ending, I was reluctant for it to end; Jason’s viewpoint was remarkable. I also found I gave Anything But Typical as a gift to a friend who is a teacher. I thought she would enjoy a story told from the point of view of an autistic child as she minored in special education. The story line intrigued me so much I had to read Jason’s story for myself. I was impressed with Nora’s voice for a 12-yr old autistic child. I was drawn into his world & lingo instantly and, though the story had a satisfying ending, I was reluctant for it to end; Jason’s viewpoint was remarkable. I also found that the ‘autistic’ style of 1st person narrative seemed to reveal the supporting characters in this story layer by layer, adding depth and understanding as the story progressed. Not only did Jason see & respond to society and its expectations differently he helped provide a fresh perspective on human and social interactions. In fact, I picked this book up expecting to learn more about autism, aspergers, ADD etc, but found myself being enlightened to the role of meanings, ambiguities and contradictions of everyday social patterns and behaviors. I loved Jason’s autobiographical narrative as well as his observant & penetrative short stories paralleling his personal development. No Percy Jackson Olympian genes or Harry Potter magical spells, but Jason has a magic all his own to share with the YA audience.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Steven

    I really enjoy books about characters on the spectrum (I am on the spectrum myself). I thoroughly enjoyed The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, Rules, Marcelo in the Real World, and 600 Hours of Edward (I particularly enjoyed those last two). So you could say that I had pretty high hopes for Anything But Typical, but unfortunately I was disappointed. Without giving anything away, I'll just say that the ending was a dud. It didn't really resolve anything which really annoyed me. Anot I really enjoy books about characters on the spectrum (I am on the spectrum myself). I thoroughly enjoyed The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, Rules, Marcelo in the Real World, and 600 Hours of Edward (I particularly enjoyed those last two). So you could say that I had pretty high hopes for Anything But Typical, but unfortunately I was disappointed. Without giving anything away, I'll just say that the ending was a dud. It didn't really resolve anything which really annoyed me. Another thing I found annoying was the anxiety driven "dream sequences" (read the book and you'll know what I am talking about). I felt the author focused on these too much to the point of monotony. Also there were times when you couldn't tell if what was being described was happening in the real world or just in his head. I wanted to like this book, but just couldn't :(

  19. 4 out of 5

    Madeline Worrell

    3.5 Stars Anything but Typical is written from the pov of a 12 year old autistic boy and how he perceives the world around him. Nora Raleigh Baskin does a great job of making you believe that this story is non-fiction. Very interesting....it makes you think.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Abigail

    Narrated by twelve-year-old Jason Blake, an autistic boy "living in a neurotypical world," this humorous and heart-breaking book offers young readers a brief glimpse of life through the eyes of someone who doesn't always know how to interpret the words and actions of the people around him, or how to respond to them, but who - in his own way - understands them all too well. When so many things in his life are such a struggle - when everything from recognizing who people are (certain facial types Narrated by twelve-year-old Jason Blake, an autistic boy "living in a neurotypical world," this humorous and heart-breaking book offers young readers a brief glimpse of life through the eyes of someone who doesn't always know how to interpret the words and actions of the people around him, or how to respond to them, but who - in his own way - understands them all too well. When so many things in his life are such a struggle - when everything from recognizing who people are (certain facial types tend to look all alike, and context becomes everything) to remembering to breathe during stressful situations, can be so difficult - Jason's writing, his stories, which he posts to the Storyboard website, are his retreat from a hurtful world. When he makes a friend - a friend who is a girl! - on the site, he thinks that Phoenixbird (real name: Rebecca) may be his first girlfriend. But then he discovers that his parents are planning to take him to a Storyboard convention, where Rebecca will also be in attendance - where Rebecca will see who he really is - and his carefully separated worlds collide... I know very little of Autism myself, and therefore feel at something of a loss, when it comes to analyzing the authenticity of Baskin's depiction of an autistic boy's view of the world. Friends who are better informed seem to find it convincing, and I myself felt that I was reading something from a perspective I had never encountered before. Jason's musings about the people around him - how they say one thing, but really mean another; how they associate eye-contact with listening, when the two having nothing to do with one another; how they edge away from him, while pretending not to - are so well observed, and so poignant. The conclusion of the plot-line involving Rebecca is not all happiness and light, which I really respected, but the book does not end on a gloomy note either: I appreciated the fact that Jason decides to continue writing, inspired by Hamilton. I don't know that I would ever have picked up Anything But Typical on my own, so I'm grateful that it was chosen for the Children's Fiction Book-Club to which I belong, as I ended up really enjoying it. It's an engaging story, one that emphasizes both the unique experience of being autistic, and the common life experiences and emotions that autistic children share with everyone else. Highly recommended!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Isabelle

    The vast majority of my classmates found the ending unsatisfying. Their reactions ranged from "disgusting" to that it left you wanting more. Of course, there was one that thought it was great. I thought it was fine, but could have been better. Rebecca is more of an idea than a person, Jason talks about her a lot, but she doesn't do much. The description of the book is kind of misleading. We held a Socratic Seminar (we the students discuss topics without raising our hands while the teacher takes The vast majority of my classmates found the ending unsatisfying. Their reactions ranged from "disgusting" to that it left you wanting more. Of course, there was one that thought it was great. I thought it was fine, but could have been better. Rebecca is more of an idea than a person, Jason talks about her a lot, but she doesn't do much. The description of the book is kind of misleading. We held a Socratic Seminar (we the students discuss topics without raising our hands while the teacher takes notes and avoids talking) after we finished this book in my class. One of the topics we talked about was the theme. I said that the theme was the same as 50% of realistic fiction books for kids, being who you are is great, be yourself, understand differences, being different is cool, etc, etc. One of my classmates replied that let's be real 100% of realistic fiction books for kids have lessons along those lines.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Liam

    This book is about a talented kid, a smart kid, a kid who is autistic. he feels uncomfortable a whole lot but he gets through it and also gets in love 😍. If you loved the Book fish in a tree you’ll love anything but typical. Nora Raleigh Baskin did a great job on this wonderfully written books. You will also love this book if you did / do a fantastic job in ELA. If you are stubborn you will love it 😊 to. This book has an amazing cover and the author really knows her writing strategies. This boo This book is about a talented kid, a smart kid, a kid who is autistic. he feels uncomfortable a whole lot but he gets through it and also gets in love 😍. If you loved the Book fish in a tree you’ll love anything but typical. Nora Raleigh Baskin did a great job on this wonderfully written books. You will also love this book if you did / do a fantastic job in ELA. If you are stubborn you will love it 😊 to. This book has an amazing cover and the author really knows her writing strategies. This book is realistic FICTION. I said fiction in all caps because lately I’ve been seeing a whole lot of reviews that people are mad that a realistic fiction book isn’t one-hundred percent real and that gets me very annoyed. But overall this is an awesome 😎 book 📖.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Minji

    This book reminds me of bravery. Even though Jason is a special, unique, and an autistic 12-year old kid, he never gives up his life. He has a brother Jeremy. Unlike Jason, Jeremy is normal. At school, nobody sits with Jason, talks to him, or invite him to the party. But he likes to write books. His dream is to become an author. When writing books, He met a friend called Pheonixbird. Her real name is Rebecca. Jason helps Rebecca edit her story and give feedback. Jason thinks Rebecca as a friend. This book reminds me of bravery. Even though Jason is a special, unique, and an autistic 12-year old kid, he never gives up his life. He has a brother Jeremy. Unlike Jason, Jeremy is normal. At school, nobody sits with Jason, talks to him, or invite him to the party. But he likes to write books. His dream is to become an author. When writing books, He met a friend called Pheonixbird. Her real name is Rebecca. Jason helps Rebecca edit her story and give feedback. Jason thinks Rebecca as a friend. However, he is scared that Rebecca will ignore him when she saw her face. What will happen to Jason and Rebecca? Will she walk away or be friends with him. Read out to find what will she do?

  24. 4 out of 5

    Maria Bazarte-De La Luz

    Jason is a 12 year old in sixth grade who was diagnosed with Autism when he was 8. He has a caring and supportive family: a mother, a father, and a younger brother. Through a website called Storyboard, he meets a friend named Rebecca. Soon his parents tell him that he will be able to attend the annual Storyboard convention. Then, Rebecca informs him that she, too, will be attending the convention because it is being held in her hometown in Texas. Jason is terrified of what Rebecca might think of Jason is a 12 year old in sixth grade who was diagnosed with Autism when he was 8. He has a caring and supportive family: a mother, a father, and a younger brother. Through a website called Storyboard, he meets a friend named Rebecca. Soon his parents tell him that he will be able to attend the annual Storyboard convention. Then, Rebecca informs him that she, too, will be attending the convention because it is being held in her hometown in Texas. Jason is terrified of what Rebecca might think of him due to his autism. It is a very emotional ride for him. I read some reviews and a lot said that Jason's character was a very stereotypical depiction of a person with autism. I really like the book and it is a very heartfelt story. Diversity and representation in books, and in general, are very important. However, I think I might enjoy a book like this more through the lenses of someone who experiences the ups and downs of Autism first-hand.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Ellie

    Anything But Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin is the story of Jason Blake, a 12 year old boy who lives in a house in Connecticut with his mother, father, and 9 year old brother. He likes computers and he is a writer. And he's different, "special", a boy "with initials"-ASD (autism spectrum disorder), PDD-NOS (pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified). He is in "inclusion"-that is, he attends a general education school. He used to need a 1-to-1 aide to help him through the day but no Anything But Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin is the story of Jason Blake, a 12 year old boy who lives in a house in Connecticut with his mother, father, and 9 year old brother. He likes computers and he is a writer. And he's different, "special", a boy "with initials"-ASD (autism spectrum disorder), PDD-NOS (pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified). He is in "inclusion"-that is, he attends a general education school. He used to need a 1-to-1 aide to help him through the day but not anymore. Because he's high-functioning. Just not high enough functioning to have friends or sit with peers at lunch or get invited to birthday parties. Or (he fears) ever have a girl friend. Anything But Typical is told in the first-person, from Jason point of view and it's funny and heart-breaking. Maybe for me, it struck a chord so close to home it hurt. But that's worked the other way with books-books I found distorted or exploited or misrepresented in some major way autism. This book felt real. Real to the experience of the children with whom I work. Real to the experience to the people I love who struggle with being "high functioning" but not neurotypical-that is to say, never quite like the rest of the world. There were places I felt the writing was sloppy in ways not explained by the character's skill (or lack thereof), but overall I found the book compulsively readable. I still have a lump in my throat. Jason is raw and real and without pretense, the way so many people with ASD are. But he can write and he can tell us what his world is like. I think everyone-of every age-should read this book.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Wardrip

    Reviewed by LadyJay for TeensReadToo.com Jason is different from other 6th-graders. He loves routine, hates noisy, overcrowded places, and constantly reminds himself to breathe. He is obviously not like other NT's (neurotypicals), the so-called "normal" people in the world. The NT's say things, but nothing is ever behind the words. Jason doesn't understand why people talk and never mean what they say. This is why he doesn't look at anyone. Jason gets distracted by faces - the way they morph when Reviewed by LadyJay for TeensReadToo.com Jason is different from other 6th-graders. He loves routine, hates noisy, overcrowded places, and constantly reminds himself to breathe. He is obviously not like other NT's (neurotypicals), the so-called "normal" people in the world. The NT's say things, but nothing is ever behind the words. Jason doesn't understand why people talk and never mean what they say. This is why he doesn't look at anyone. Jason gets distracted by faces - the way they morph when someone is speaking. Such is the life of a young autistic boy. He longs to make everything okay, for his parents' sake, but progress is slow. Jason only feels "quiet" when he is on the computer. His stories allow him to take on different personas, and in that realm, he is safe and content. This novel gives an extraordinary view of an autistic child's life. Having Jason narrate his own story allows the reader a view into his world. It is chaotic, and sometimes frightening, but there is also hope. Jason's love of writing opens a whole new world to him. In that world, he can be whoever he wants to be; in that world, he is a "normal" kid. ANYTHING BUT TYPICAL is an excellent novel that everyone should read. It is eye-opening, unexpected, and thoughtful. Ms. Baskin deserves major kudos for this wonderful piece of writing.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Raina

    Ok, first of all, this may be my favorite book cover of all time. I have a strong desire to like this book for that reason. The text is an account of a 12-year-old boy named Jason with autism. It's from inside his head, and communicates the struggles he has to connect with his family, strangers, and society. I particularly liked the explanation about clothing choices. Baskin does a nice thing making Jason's obsession letters and words instead of numbers, so that Jason is a talented writer. It's a Ok, first of all, this may be my favorite book cover of all time. I have a strong desire to like this book for that reason. The text is an account of a 12-year-old boy named Jason with autism. It's from inside his head, and communicates the struggles he has to connect with his family, strangers, and society. I particularly liked the explanation about clothing choices. Baskin does a nice thing making Jason's obsession letters and words instead of numbers, so that Jason is a talented writer. It's a realistic little plot about the trials of his life, especially as he confronts meeting someone he knows from online. Honestly, I'm not sure what my hook is for a booktalk. The London Eye Mystery (which, granted, had a perhaps higher-functioning boy at it's core) did a nice job of incorporating the condition into a traditional plot. This freshened up the mystery-genre and showed us benefits of the condition at the same time. This one focused more on the "plight" of the kid. Which, to me, makes it more of an educational novel, and not one which makes me look at literature in a different way. It was good, for what it was. And the cover could transcend much.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Madeleine

    Reading a YA/kid novel every Friday night might not be a bad way to occupy myself. It's nice to escape into a slightly simpler world after a long week of craziness. Jason Blake, the narrator of Anything But Typical is a twelve-year-old boy who has autism. He loves writing fiction, and gets through the middle-school meanness by finding a community of other writers on a fiction website--including PhoenixBird, a girl :) I liked this book because there's such a stereotype of people with autism being Reading a YA/kid novel every Friday night might not be a bad way to occupy myself. It's nice to escape into a slightly simpler world after a long week of craziness. Jason Blake, the narrator of Anything But Typical is a twelve-year-old boy who has autism. He loves writing fiction, and gets through the middle-school meanness by finding a community of other writers on a fiction website--including PhoenixBird, a girl :) I liked this book because there's such a stereotype of people with autism being math/science/numbers geniuses, and Jason's talent and passion is for writing. Talent comes in all areas...as do all our ways of looking at the world and interacting with each other. The fact that the author herself doesn't have autism gives me pause a little...I think there are always issues when you write in someone's else's voice. I also think it can work despite those issues. I thought Anything But Typical was good, and respectful...but what do I know?

  29. 4 out of 5

    Nurhayati Ramlan

    Oh my god! I love this book!! Such a good book to end my 2016! I love how Jason used writing as his coping mechanism. I loveeeee the ending. <3

  30. 4 out of 5

    Bethany

    Please note that this review comes from my point of view as an actual autistic. Anything But Typical was a very enjoyable Middle Grade read. Right from the strong opening line - 'Most people like to talk in their own language.' - I was hooked. Jason had such a strong narrative voice, and I thought it was a very clever set up, telling us he's going to tell his story in a neurotypical way. Nora Raleigh Baskin makes incredible use of the first person narrative, so that we really feel like we're in J Please note that this review comes from my point of view as an actual autistic. Anything But Typical was a very enjoyable Middle Grade read. Right from the strong opening line - 'Most people like to talk in their own language.' - I was hooked. Jason had such a strong narrative voice, and I thought it was a very clever set up, telling us he's going to tell his story in a neurotypical way. Nora Raleigh Baskin makes incredible use of the first person narrative, so that we really feel like we're in Jason's head - Anything But Typical is very much a character driven, rather than a plot driven, novel. As we all know, every autistic will have a different experience, but I think Anything But Typical did quite well at representing one autistic experience. Right off the bat, it began with very good depictions of the things Jason does, the way people think about/treat him, and how sometimes authority figures stepping in to help can really just make everything worse. There was examples of many common autistic traits such as stimming, difficulty with eye contact, a need for routine, meltdowns, aversion to touch, taking things logically, echolalia and prospragnosia (face blindness). Jason was talented but not a savant, which was refreshing to read in a world where a lot of autistic depictions in the media are of the same cis-het white genius male. I thought the descriptions of what it feels like to be autistic, and the reactions that being autistic can cause, were amazing. Anything But Typical was great at showing Jason feeling things but expressing them differently to his neurotypical peers, subtly breaking down autistic stereotypes about not feeling or not wanting connections (which we see through Jason's desire for friendship with Aaron and Rebecca, his love for his family, etc.). It did a great job at demonstrating how some of Jason's obstacles stem from his disability, but many are from people mistreating him, a lack of understanding and accepting of difference, and his environment. It never felt like preaching a 'moral of the story' or 'teaching moment', but instead, examples of ableism, lack of acceptance and frustration with impairment are woven into the natural progression of the story. I think the part of the autistic representation that I enjoyed the most was how much Nora Raleigh Baskin emphasised that autistics do have feelings, even if they express them in different ways to neurotypicals. There was a lot of discussion surrounding feelings and the autistic experience - how neurotypicals seem to think talking about feelings is the same as feeling feelings (it isn't), how Jason means one thing but other people misinterpret, and how everyone else will often decide how you 'feel' (as in they will assume you feel a certain way, even if you haven't indicated that you do). Talking vs Listening was a big theme within the novel, and the differences in communication for autistics and neurotypicals. Because even though it is harder for me to talk than to listen, and even though it is also hard for me to listen, I think it is much harder for NTs to listen than it is to talk. This was a great example of the differences in communication and the difference between talking and listening, and how oftentimes people will think you're not listening when really you just don't have anything else to contribute. Later Lara Mok told me her mother said I was dangerous and shouldn’t be in school with the normal kids. That I was disruptive and holding everyone back. That it was only going to get worse.  She didn’t mean for me.  For the NTs, she meant.  For the ones that threw the clay around the room and let me take the blame’ This scene just really highlighted so much of the ableism that autistics often experience, and how many authority figures will just assume the autistics are unable to communicate. A great example of how neurodiverse kids are often teased, belittled and used by neurotypicals, and how it's always about the neurotypical kids, instead of people trying to understand the neurodiverse kids. Also a great example of how people tend to not ask or question the neurodiverse kids about what happened, instead just assuming they're in the wrong. Anything But Typical was really all about Jason figuring out who he is and coming to terms with himself, his autism, and how other people perceive him. This is showcased when Jason finally accepts who he is, that he is not separate from his autism, and that without his autism he wouldn't truly be him - I knew I had these new letters—ADOS, LD, HFA, PDD–NOS—that would always be linked to my name, that I was not going to outgrow. And even if my mom didn’t know it, I only had one choice. I could keep my name with all its letters and sounds and all its meaning and all its nonmeaning. Or I could disappear. I have mixed feelings about Jason's parents, as although it was clear that they did care about Jason, they also didn't try all that hard to understand him, and there was a lot of external and internal ableism going on on their behalf. My heart breaks for Jason, thinking that they love Jeremy more than him and that Jeremy was his replacement. However, it was interesting to see Jason take them on his journey of acceptance, with the novel ending with them understanding Jason just a little bit more. I think this is an experience that many autistic children can relate to, and that many of us are still going through ourselves. Unfortunately, ableism is well and rampant in our society, and it's often a long journey to unravel the internalised prejudices held by many of our family members. Anything But Typical does not have a happy ending - I wouldn't say that it is sad or tragic, but it isn't exactly happy. It's quite open ended, and while I found it satisfying personally, I can understand why some readers wouldn't. In saying that, this was quite a common theme in the novel - a lot of things were not fully explained. To me, this made sense - this was Jason's story, and he already knew what had happened, so why would he tell himself things that he is already aware of? I think this fit well with Jason's character, but I can see why this could be frustrating to some readers. The author, Nora Raleigh Baskin, hasn't identified herself as autistic, so Anything But Typical can't be classified as own voices. However, as an autistic reader, I found it to be a very accurate and thoughtful portrayal of autism (keeping in mind that every autistic experience is different, Jason's experience wasn't really all that much like my own), and think this book would be enjoyable for those of all ages who would like a character driven contemporary coming of age story.

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