14-year-old Colin Fischer is on the Autism Spectrum. He is brilliant and his ability to meticulously notice details makes him a natural detective with a Sherlock Holmes-like talent for deduction. He is socially awkward and has trouble reading facial expressions. He loves to jump on a trampoline and that is one of the things that keeps him calm and helps him think. He deals with bullies. In the first chapter we witness him getting a swirly in the boy’s restroom. So when that bully is accused of setting off a gun at school, Colin notices the detail that makes that bully an unlikely suspect. The police are not investigating this so Colin takes it upon himself to solve the crime. He doesn’t care that he is doing things that would put him in danger. He just has to solve this problem that no one else is seeing. This is brilliant first hand look into what it is like to be on the Autism Spectrum. Colin keeps a notebook where readers will learn interesting things about whatever Colin is thinking about at the time. I especially liked the part about how math solves the parking problem. People end up wasting more time trying to find a perfect parking space instead of just parking and walking. Readers also get a little history on Hans Aspergers and how this recently new diagnosis was created out of Nazi Germany. The relationship between Colin and his younger, typical brother Danny is interesting. Danny feels that Colin is treated differently. I have a child on the spectrum with a younger child that is typical. I can see the same struggle for my typical child of why her sister gets away with some things that she can’t. I also loved the moments with the gym teacher. Instead of excusing Colin from gym class, he figured out a way to teach Colin basketball in a way that he could understand and be successful. The world needs more teachers like him. I hope this becomes a series. I will read every one of them.
Some ideas for discussing with teens:
What do you think it would be like to be Colin? Do you know anyone like him?
Talk about detective work. What makes Colin a natural detective?
How did people treat Melissa differently when her appearance changed? Talk about how people are treated based on how they look?
Discuss Colin’s relationship with Melissa?
Talk about the new relationship between Colin and Wayne.
Colin sets the record straight proving a bully was innocent. Would you go out of your way to help someone who bullied you?
Talk about what makes a person like R.T. Moore tick? What makes him scary or not scary.
Talk about Sandy’s expulsion. Did you think it was fair? If you were a school administrator would you handle it differently?
Talk about Colin’s relationship with his brother. Do you think Danny is treated fairly?
Talk about how the gym teacher taught Colin to play basketball.