Friday, 4 August 2017

The State of Grace by Rachael Lucas

The State of Grace

Sometimes I feel like everyone else was handed a copy of the rules for life and mine got lost.

Grace has Asperger's and her own way of looking at the world. She's got a horse and a best friend who understand her, and that's pretty much all she needs. But when Grace kisses Gabe and things start to change at home, the world doesn't make much sense to her any more. 

Suddenly everything threatens to fall apart, and it's up to Grace to fix it on her own.

Grace has had to learn on her feet, struggling through life and its ever-changing rules, when her autism means she sees and is affected by things very differently. She also can't pick up social cues, which is a typical autistic trait, so when things happened (like her mum's sudden need to have a life outside of home, her little sister acting weird with her best friend), they seemed to happen with no warning and Grace struggled to deal with it. 

Personally, I think this was very apt; from my experience dating someone with autism, they don't think about anyone outside their little bubble - my fiancé once explained it to me that once I'm not in the vicinity of him anymore, it's as if I cease to exist, he just doesn't think about me (that was years ago, so I'm not longer insulted!). 

Grace was such an amazing character - she was used to being defined by her autism and just desperately wanted to fit in, to be ignored by the mean girls that tease her. She also had an incredible friendship with Anna, who used to her quirks and knew not to push her. Anna was a calming and steady influence when everything else seemed to be falling around her, and for that Grace was very grateful. 

Now, the romance. I really liked them, it was real and endearing. Gabe was her first crush, it's adorable and new, but he just seemed a bit meh. Maybe because they were all 15 and nothing happened to them yet... But it was sweet and a little bit funny to see how Grace dealt with having someone new in her life. 

I had a lovely chat with Rachael at YALC about communicating with autistic people, as I've had 10 years with one of them and I'm still learning! What I loved and especially appreciated about this story, and I told Rachael this, was how realistic the autistic voice seemed to me. This is exactly how my fiancé acted when we were teenagers, still does a bit now, and having a protagonist with autism will explain the spectrum to a much larger audience.

Published 6th April 2017 by Macmillan Children's. 

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