A Kind of Spark by Elle McNicoll (9780593374252)
Addie is neurodivergent just like her older sister. She has had good luck with teachers at school until she gets Ms. Murphy, who clearly doesn’t appreciate having Addie in her class. Meanwhile, Addie’s previous best friend has found someone else to be friends with, a girl that bullies Addie constantly. The new girl in class though clearly wants to be Addie’s friend and is also willing to stand up and defend her. As Addie navigates friendship and school, she learns of her village’s history of witch trials and the women who were killed. She is determined to have a memorial created for the women who were killed, many of whom were likely different from the norm, just like Addie and her sister.
Written by a neurodivergent author, this middle grade novel won the Peter Blue Book Award for Best Story of the Year. It is clear to see why. This portrayal of being autistic is filled with compassion and empathy, but also doesn’t apologize for being different instead pointing out how important different perspectives and voices are. Written in the first person from Addie’s point of view, readers get to understand how it feels to need to control autistic behaviors and the toll it takes.
Addie explains directly how it feels to be autistic, how it is to have to suppress stimulation behaviors, and what having a meltdown feels like to the person having one. This book offers everyone a way to see underneath autistic presentation to the person underneath who has so much to say and contribute. This is done simply by allowing us inside Addie to deeply understand her as a human.
A compelling look inside autism and activism. Appropriate for ages 9-12.
Reviewed from e-galley provided by Crown Books for Young Readers.