A story about a girl who meets a boy who changes everything
Mika is a girl growing out of her clothes and approaching womanhood with the expectations of her mother weighing firmly upon her shoulders and a love of music that transcends the strict classical lessons imposed on her. With a brother and sister who have ganged up on her, she is looking for a way to escape and find her own voice. Mika and Max form a strong bond that is inspirational and heartwarming.
When I first read the blurb I was expecting a schmaltzy romance between Mika and Max, that wasn't the case at all and I was a much happier reader for that fact. Mika and her family are going to a music festival and while they are there they are going to stay with an old friend of her dads, whose only child is on the autism spectrum. Mika ends up befriending Max and it changes her for the better. The book takes place over the course of a weekend but it doesn't feel rushed at all, you just amble through the story and end up not with a perfect ending (because autism can't be 'cured') but with the right ending.
I have a friend with autism, my daughter is friends with a boy who has autism and my youngest has ADHD and so has some of the quirks of autism (she may in fact have autism, but one step at a time), so I was hoping to read a book that portrayed an autistic child as authentically as it could and I wasn't disappointed. Max is portrayed when happy, sad and anything in between, he never changes and is his authentic self (I was pleased to read in the back that the author has an autistic child herself, so she's writing from experience and not just someone who thought that would be a good topic). Mika is caught being what she thinks is expected from her and wanting to develop herself, be herself, watching Max just be himself without a care about what others think, lets her see how she can begin to let go and open herself up more.
I love Max, he is so real and it is a good look at how some autistic children are, that's what you must remember, coming away from this, Max is Max, he isn't every child who is highly autistic, but he is real and even if you don't know someone on the spectrum you should still read this, because a little more understanding can't be a bad thing.
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