This is the third in this delightful series about the exploits of Don Tillman, who has found the love of his life – Rosie – married her, and is now raising their “result,” Hudson. As Rosie has now been offered a position in their native Australia, they have uprooted 11-year-old Hudson and are trying to help him adjust to the transition. Because Hudson is definitely a creature of habit, he is not very happy with the change and he is letting Don and Rosie know it. And so are his teachers. And the school principal. As a professional crisis for Don leads him to change his work schedule and focus, he opts to spend more time with Hudson to support him with the adjustment. This process leads both Don and Hudson down a road to self-discovery that is truly life-changing for both of them.
I love the writing for its voice. The author creates the most endearing character in Don, even as Don verbalizes little directly of his own emotions. Don’s utter honesty and kindness are reflected in the things he says and does for those around him and the reactions he elicits are often surprise and wonder., even as people see him as different. He struggles to fit in with those who are “neurotypical” (not autistic) and wants his son to fit in as well in order to avoid the difficulties Don has had to contend with. In this and many other ways, he demonstrates that he deeply feels compassion and empathy, even if he misses other more subtle social cues.
Clearly, the author, with the assistance of his wife (a psychologist), has made a statement here in this novel in support of those in the autism community. Apparently there are differing opinions on how to approach children with autism –whether to teach them skills to integrate more into the neurotypical community or to allow them to be as they are (and obviously to reach out to the general public and educate us more on acceptance, which should be happening anyway). I imagine this must be a painfully difficult decision for some parents, who want to spare a child’s suffering (these children are often bullied because they are different) but also allow a child to see that they are loved for who they are, no matter what. I believe this book gives a lot of insight into both the challenges and the capabilities of those with autism and one turns the final pages feeling strongly allied with this community.
I also love the not-so-subtle shout out in support of vaccinations. There is a very strong statement countering the absolutely unsubstantiated idea that vaccines cause autism. This idea was started by an unethical researcher in England years ago who was later found to have fudged his data in order to be published. But the damage was done. He’s created a community of people who believe in conspiracy theories about vaccines that are just untrue. Vaccines save lives. Period.
I love all of the Rosie books – and this one is another great one! Definitely read it!