“Being a human is a complicated game – like seeing a ghost in a mirror and trying to echo everything they do.”
I knew I was going to love Grace the second I read that opening line. Grace has a horse, a best friend and a budding romance with Gabe, which all sounds like a lovely life until you realise that she also has Asperger’s Syndrome and begin to understand how challenging every day interactions are for someone with this syndrome. It’s innate and not something that can be cured.
The world never truly adapted to Grace, she has had to adapt to the rest of the world and when you’re a teenager that becomes even more complex. Especially when there are unexplained changes going on in the family home.
I loved how Grace describes how she tunes in to a conversation then gets distracted by another chat and loses the thread of the one she’s in. People sometimes think those with Asperger’s don’t pick up on facial cues, but they can, they know when they’ve missed a step in the flow and it throws them, as it throws Grace here. She’s picked it up that she’s lost the thread of the conversation, but the person without her condition who is talking hasn’t, the second they look at her oddly makes Grace’s mask slip.
And when the mask slips all her senses become intensified. Sounds are louder, smells more intense, light is brighter, flavours are stronger and texture is more dense. Grace has an engaging turn of phrase as she keeps putting herself out there, then retreats when overwhelmed to try and make sense of what she experiences. She’s a highly observant character, often humorous and knowledgable but also in some ways naive.
This is when Grace starts to over think everything, running through every scenario numerous times to the point of catastrophic thinking, which leads to a series of events where Grace thinks she’s to blame for what happens. There is no one she can turn to who will stop what they’re doing long enough to register that she’s heading into catastrophic thinking and help her to pull back from it.
Through this experience Grace learns a lot about herself, her friendships and her family and they do in return. As I turned the last page I was filled with hope, hope that many people may read this novel and realise that it’s time we adapted and took the perspective of people like Grace into consideration instead of expecting them to conform. As mutual understanding can be beneficial for everyone.
“It’s okay to get things wrong. We’re all still learning. The day you stop learning, my love, is the day you stop living.”
I bought my copy of The State of Grace by Rachael Lucas from Five Leaves Bookshop.
Follow Rachael on twitter: @karamina.
Published by Macmillan Children’s Books: YA.
Find out more about Asperger’s Syndrome: The National Autistic Society