I’ve mentioned many a time on my blog over the past few months that this was the year I wanted to read more YA fiction. In truth, my experience so far hasn’t been mind-blowing (that’s a post for another day) but then Tammy Robinson’s Differently Normal happened.
For Maddy, life is all about routine. It has to be, to keep her autistic sister happy and healthy. With just Maddy and her mother as Bee’s full-time carers, there’s no time in Maddy’s life for complications like friends, let alone a boyfriend. So when Maddy meets Albert, the last thing on her mind is falling in love.
Albert has resigned himself to always being a disappointment to his strict father. But then he meets Maddy, and gets a glimpse of what being part of a functioning family can be like and the tremendous sacrifices people will make for the ones they love.
But are Maddy and Albert willing to make the biggest of sacrifices for each other? Some things, they are about to discover, are outside of their control…
Annoyingly, I was super busy when I started reading Differently Normal, so it took a good few days to get really into it but then when I did, bam, I was hooked. Firstly, I loved Albert. I’m definitely too old for him but I was loving the surfer vibes and his character felt so authentic.
I also really loved the portrayal of autism throughout the book. I’ve read some pretty shoddy depictions of autism but this was spot on. I really liked the way Bee wasn’t just used to progress the story, but a real character, and it was nice to see a depiction of autism that wasn’t a stereotypical ‘socially awkward, high-functioning’ person. I really hope this book gets people thinking about the whole spectrum of autism, instead of the one portrayal so often shown in the media.
Overall, I thought the story was great and while I’m obviously not going to give anything away, just make sure you have some tissues handy while you read.
I keep seeing the book being compared to Me Before You and The Fault in our Stars, which is a huge accolade but I really hope Differently Normal will stand out on its own because I truly enjoyed it.
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