If you’re anything like me, you love supporting unique voices. When given the opportunity, I pride myself in picking up books written by diverse authors. Why? It helps me diversify my own voice and it broadens my perspective.
If you enjoy reading, I highly encourage reading books from ALL perspectives, not just a certain genre or author. There’s truly nothing better than putting yourself in a whole new world, watching scenes unfold that you might not have understood before reading a particular book.
If you’re not a part of the Autism Community, April is Autism Awareness Month. Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that can affect an individual’s ability to communicate and socialize. While it comes with many different presentations, people with autism often celebrate their uniqueness and their ability to look at the world differently–this also pertains to authors.
If you haven’t read a book by an autistic author, or a close relative of someone with autism, it is a wonderful way to understand the different perspectives of those on the spectrum. As a person diagnosed with autism, I find it SO important to read other voices of those with autism and gain a better understanding of my own community.
Whether you’re also a person with autism, like me, or you like broadening your horizons with new books, reading novels with autistic protagonists is great for a variety of reasons.
Here are just a few of my favorite books by authors with autism and their family members, or books with autistic protagonists that are well portrayed.
1. The Bride Test, Helen Hoang
Chances are, you’ve probably heard of Helen Hoang, a New York Times Bestselling Romance Author. Hoang was diagnosed with autism in 2016 and released her first book with a protagonist with autism in 2018, The Kiss Quotient. While I’ve read all of her books, and enjoyed The Kiss Quotient, my favorite of Hoang’s books is The Bride Test.
The Bride Test follows the story of Khai and Esme. Khai feels defective–he doesn’t feel the closeness of his relationships as his family members do and he believes that is for the best. Esme on the other hand, loves deeply and closely. When these two come together in unusual circumstances (at the behest of Khai’s mom), a series of interesting, autism-fueled events happen that make both characters second guess how they have lived without each other all along.
You can purchase The Bride Test through Amazon.
2. Forever Boy, Kate Swenson
If you haven’t been following Kate Swenson’s blog, Finding Cooper’s Voice, you’re missing out. Swenson has been posting for years about the realities of parenting a child with autism. Following Kate and Cooper’s story has been a joy. Kate always has a positive outlook and she always tries to find the best in every situation, no matter how difficult a particular day might be. Their journey has grown and changed so much since starting the blog, and Forever Boy truly showcases this.
Dreaming of having a perfect life, Swenson never expected her oldest, Cooper, would be diagnosed with severe autism at a young age. Through her blog, and Forever Boy, Swenson shares her encouraging stories of how Cooper has helped her view the world from a different perspective.
Forever Boy isn’t just an inspiring story–it’s a memoir with intense love, grief, and exhaustion. Kate shares her experiences, both good and bad, and how autism has changed her entire family. Through work, resilience, and personal growth, Swenson shares how autism led her to acceptance and changing her own perspective.
3. Mozart And The Whale, Jerry and Mary Newport
When I first read Mozart and The Whale, it honestly broke me. This story is SO real and reads so smoothly that it’s easy to forget that it’s a memoir, based on Jerry Newport’s own love story with his wife, Mary.
Both Jerry and Mary connected with a love of many common interests, including birds. A musical genius and a mathematical wonder, the two shared more than just a high IQ–they are both on the autism spectrum.
Mozart and the Whale is the story of how the two fell in love, out of love, and then into love, again. Struggling through their combined diagnosis and the difficulty that autism brings to any relationship, Jerry and Mary work to find common ground and compromise, in a world where perspective becomes all too important.
The Newports have been featured on 60 Minutes and their story has been made into a movie, as well. Though I haven’t specifically followed the movie, I loved reading their story and I think this book is so underhyped. If you have the chance, definitely check it out. You can order it on Amazon here.
4. The Reckless Oath We Made, Bryn Greenwood
The Reckless Oath We Made is at the TOP of my TBR list right now after reading Greenwood’s most recent book, All The Ugly and Wonderful Things, that won the Book of The Year Award last year. Greenwood is such a talented writer and she has a knack for creating characters that are realistically flawed, which I love.
In The Reckless Oath We Made, Zee and Gentry become unlikely friends. Zee has a tough exterior, but a loyal heart. Gentry is autistic and wears his heart on his sleeve, but will do anything to protect Zee. When Zee’s family is threatened, Gentry will stop at nothing to become her knight in shining armor, setting in motion a love story for the ages.
If you love realistic characters, dual POVs and lower-class American struggle stories, you will LOVE The Reckless Oath We Made. Check it out on Amazon here.
5. On The Edge Of Gone, Corrine Duyvis
I LOVE a good dystopian novel and On The Edge Of Gone certainly delivers. Set in 2035, Denise and her family have been sent to a temporary shelter not far from their hometown in Amsterdam to wait out a deadly comet headed straight for earth. With little time to spare to get to the shelter, Denise’s sister goes missing and her drug-abusing mother isn’t much help.
As Denise struggles to keep her family together and bring them to safety, she is presented with a new opportunity: leave earth on a ship and re-colonize a new world. But Denise has a secret–she’s autistic. In a community where everyone has to be useful in order to stay, can Denise find her place? When the future of the entire human race is at stake, will Denise’s diagnosis matter?
The author of The Edge of Gone, and The Otherworld, among others, Duyvis is a disability advocate in the YA book community. Co-Founder and Editor of Disability in Kid-lit, Duyvis is a talented writer with perspective to share.
There are so many wonderful authors with autism (or authors that have family members with autism) that can bring an entirely different perspective to the book community. While these are just a few books that I love that are autism-centered, it’s certainly becoming a more popular theme to include disabled protagonists in a variety of different literature genres.
Where there any books I missed? What are your favorite reads with protagonists with autism and which of these book selections would you want to read most? Leave a comment below and let us know.
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