Diversity Recs: Characters on the Autism-Spectrum

For this post on diverse recs, we’re focusing on book characters that are on the autism-spectrum. This is a topic close to my heart, as at the age of 18, I was diagonised with Asperger Syndrome. It makes it difficult to communicate with people, understand emotion and understand other people’s actions but Aspergers is only one form of autism – there is a whole spectrum and these characters are on it. No two people with autism are the same but these are some books that we have found. As always, if any of our information is incorrect, please do not hesitate to let us know in the comments.

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On the Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis

Yes, this is a sci-fi, dystopian novel with its biracial MC living with autism. Also an Own Voices book, we follow the story of Denise as she, her mother and little sister, Iris are moved to a temporary shelter on the day a giant comet is scheduled to hit their hometown of Amsterdam. There is a ship available to leave Earth but will they be allowed to board it seeing as Iris has gone missing and Denise’s drug-dependent mother isn’t helping? There are also Muslim and Jewish characters and I believe Iris herself is trans. This book is full of diversity, full of twists and turns and just a definite must-read.

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M is for Autism by The Students of Limpsfield Grange School

This story is primarily told by a teenage girl known as ‘M’ as she shares her story of autism and her experiences whilst also dealing with teenage years and wanting to be ‘normal.’ Limpsfield Grange is a school for girls with Autistic Spectrum Disorder and we hear from a lot of the students. What drew me to this book, is that it was girls with autism who shared their stories and as I learned when I was diagnosed, autism is a lot harder to detect in girls than it is in boys so a lot of us can live our lives undiagnosed. This novel is heartfelt and important and delves into the world of autism from the people who know it best. 

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Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde

Released on March 14th, this Own Voices novel follows the story of three girls and delves into the world of conventions. It is jam-packed with diversity including Taylor, a girl with autism and anxiety and a general fear of change, an openly bisexual Chinese-Australian vlogger/actress who falls in love with another woman of colour. Filled with adorable romances, pop-culture references and the mad but incredible world of conventions, this book is highly-anticipated. This book also deals with feminism, slut-shaming, body-shaming and how important these girl’s voices are. 

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The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida

This book is written by Japanese thirteen year old, Naoki who lives with autism. He is very smart, very self-aware and very charming but he unable to speak aloud. Having to use an alphabet grid to communicate, we hear Naoki answer questions about living with autism which allows us and his family to understand what it is like inside his head. I must point out that this book has received some controversy as it is translated into English by David Mitchell and his Japanese wife. Some people are worried about the authenticity of Naoki’s words and if they have been at all edited for publishing reasons. For this reason, the book has mixed reviews.

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The Original Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig

Fourteen year old Ginny Moon has finally found her ‘forever home,’ a place where any foster kid would feel safe but Ginny is desperate to be kidnapped by her abusive, drug-addicted mother and return home, continuing her life hiding from authorities and from her mother’s violent boyfriends. Ginny is autistic and she has very strict rules that she can’t deviate from and moving away from what she knows is too much. This is the story of her living with autism, trying to fit in and trying to make sense of the strange world around her. 

Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork

Before I start, just look at that beautiful cover. Ok. Serious face back on. We follow the story of Marcelo Sandoval, a boy who hears music that nobody else can hear and it is due to his unidentifiable form of autism. Having always attended a special school, this summer his father demands that he works in his law firm’s mailroom to get experience of the ‘real world.’ Here, Marcelo meets Jasmine and Wendell and learns about jealousy, competition and desire. 

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The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

We follow the story of Christopher Boone, a boy living with Aspergers which makes everyday life a little more difficult for him, however, he is a mathematical and scientific genius. He has no understanding of human emotions and cannot stand to be touched but he knows every country of the world and its capitals and every prime number up to 7,057. His brain is just remarkable but when a neighbour’s dog is killed, fifteen-year-old Christopher sets out to solve the murder in the style of his favourite detective (and mine), Sherlock Holmes.

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Shtum by Jem Lester

Told by Ben Jewell as he and his wife, Emma are struggling to cope dealing with their ten-year-old son, Jonah and his severe autism. The only way to further Jonah’s upcoming tribunal is for the couple to fake their separation and Ben and Jonah move in with Ben’s elderly father, Georg. What follows within the four walls of a small house in North London is the family dynamics between two men who won’t talk and one boy who can’t. Heartbreaking and important as it shows how families deal with their loved ones having autism.

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Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine

Caitlin is an eleven-year-old girl living with Asperger Syndrome and to her, everything is black or white, good or bad. Caitlin’s older brother, Devon has always been able to understand this and can explain when she couldn’t. However, Devon is now dead and her father just doesn’t get it. When one day, she reads the definition of closure, she realises that she must go out to find it and on her journey, she discovers that the world is made up of more than just black and white. It is complicated and wonderful and strange. 

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Rogue by Lyn Miller-Lachmann

We follow the story of Kiara who lives with Asperger syndrome and in a world where not a lot makes sense, she relies on the Internet to answer any questions she may have but some things don’t have answers, like why she struggles to get along with other kids and why she has been kicked out of school. She wishes she could be like Rogue, a misunderstood X-Men mutant she looks up to. One day, a new boy moves in across the street and Kiara vows to make this friendship work. 

Love from Angharad @

Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall

“Mental health is usually the last place people go when they think about someone being sick… I’ve heard you don’t look mentally ill at least a half a dozen times in the past four years, a couple of those times from my former friends. I blame the media, stereotyping ‘mentally ill’ and calling every murderer since Manson crazy. People always seem to be expecting wide eyes and a kitchen knife dripping with blood.”
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(I, myself, am a recovering agoraphobiac living with severe anxiety and depression so I was very hesitant about going into this novel, purely because I didn’t want to get triggered. Luckily, despite connecting to Norah on a very deep level, I was able to deal with it. However, I would advise people like me to only read this book if you’re able. No book is worth risking your mental health.)

We follow the story of seventeen-year-old, Norah who lives with agoraphobia and because of this, the story mainly takes place within her home and safe place. She also battles with OCD and self-harming tendencies (this story also focuses on what it means to self-harm and the different categories it falls under.) If you’re looking for a plot-based book, you won’t find it here but if you’re looking for a book about mental-health and its effect on daily life, you’ll find it here. Louise Gornall, in my opinion, absolutely nailed living with these conditions and has done it justice. Yes, Norah meets a boy and she falls in love but her mental illness is never glossed over, not even at the end.
The relationship between Norah and Luke was lovely, healthy and realistic. I love how they chose to communicate sometimes by writing on windows or on their hands when Norah wasn’t feeling up to talking. I saw a review saying that it was unrealistic to find a boy who would accept your mental illness *insert eye roll* but they actually do exist, guys?? I am so done with people saying people who live with mental health issues cannot find happiness. Another highlight was definitely Norah’s relationship with her mum and her mum is the coolest (I mean, she wore her hair in space buns??) They have such a strong relationship that reminds me of my mother and I so I loved their moments together. They truly were heartwarming, you can see how much her mum supports her and yet never pushes her too much. Norah also has regular visits with her therapist, Dr. Reeves and I wish I had a therapist as lovely as her. A lot of advice that was given by her, I definitely took on board myself which is something I’m incredibly grateful to the author for.
Overall, this is a very quick read (if I didn’t have a migraine for three days) and if you’re searching for a book to either help you learn about mental illness or to see yourself in Norah, then I would definitely recommend this. It’s a hard story to read, especially when Norah relapses and the event that takes place near the end of the book made me anxious and uncomfortable but that was because of good writing and a relatable main character. We go deep into the inner mechanics of Norah’s mind, the questions she is constantly asking herself, her worries about germs and disasters but she also has the ability to laugh at herself, to have your typical teenage-girl issues and that is why she is a character you can immediately jump into your shoes of, even if you don’t particularly want to. This book shows the dark side to mental health that isn’t romanticised or at all stereotypical despite its MC falling in love. There isn’t a cure or a happy ever after, Norah is still ill and still recovering at the end of the story. Give this book a shot but look after yourselves.
Love from,