Monday, June 24, 2013

Boomer and Me



"It's so annoying," I say, "when people tell you they don't believe in labelling children. That it's all a fad."
"Yes!" says Kerri. "It's so insulting. Like you're making it all up."
Those people are well-meaning; they think they are reassuring you. They say things like, Yes, don't all the kids have that these days? Or, Everyone's on the spectrum, really, aren't they? Then they laugh, in an offhand way that suggests you can stop worrying now, because it's all an invention, just another example of overzealous labelling by the medical profession. As if you've never considered that before. As if it can't be true isn't your own first thought.
 - From Boomer and Me by Jo Case


I just finished reading Boomer and Me, a memoir on Motherhood, and Asperger's by Jo Case. I had been waiting for this book since I first learned Jo was writing it, which was around about the same time that I started my own exploration into Asperger's. Back then I was reading every blog I could find (and there are many) but after a while I turned to fiction. When I started writing Girl Defective, the character of Gully flew in and I couldn't handle him. In an early draft I completely wrote him out of the story. As I grew more comfortable with my own boy's diagnosis I was able to face Gully again, and so rewrote and rewrote and it was the right decision because he is the heart of the novel.

Reading Boomer and Me was an immersive experience. I felt like I had pulled the doona over my head. But not hiding, absorbing. The thing with Asperger's is that there's all this information around - but it's incredibly hard to navigate, and you end up second-guessing and shuffling despair and hope ...
Boomer and Me is my first experience of reading a book about the daily dealings of parenting a child with Asperger's. I found it immensely relatable - especially stories around the schools/friends/social trials and tribulations. It also happens to be beautifully written, particularly in its evocation of time (late nineties-to-now) and place (Melbourne and Adelaide). It's not a how-to or an answer, it's a journey, and one that I'd recommend for anyone. For more info see Jo Case's website here. And for a list of books featuring Aspie characters see the marvellous Bookwitch here.


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