A while ago, we had a friend and his six year old son round for Sunday lunch. As we ate lunch, chatting companionably, he tried to say something, but couldn’t as the conversation went in a different direction. He banged his glass and told us all to listen to him now. His dad explained that wasn’t how conversations worked, and he should wait for a pause until he made his point. After we finished eating his son then wouldn’t drink any fruit juice unless it specifically said ‘squash’ on the label as he refused to believe Ribena or lime cordial were squashes. The boy wasn’t being naughty, he was genuinely upset that we’d lied to him about it being squash when it didn’t say that on the bottle, only ‘cordial’ or ‘fruit juice’.
In this book, Lucy has a man, her son, Merlin, who has autism. Her son lives in a parallel universe, but she realises it’s quite a captivating place to dwell.
Lucy goes on a series of dates to find a man, since her husband left them as he couldn’t cope with having a son with autism. Lucy’s husband is vile. I actually shouted at some of the pages of his dialogue. Vileness personified.
Lucy is looking for a Potential Father for Merlin. As you’d expect this doesn’t go quite to plan, and some of the things Merlin says and does are hilarious and perfectly illustrate what it must be like having a child with autism.
It debunks the Rainman-esque myth that everyone with a form of autism is gifted in some way. ‘...Merlin’s ‘genius’ was like a comet, infrequent and brilliant but also accompanied by a lot of space garbage...’ She adds that ‘When you have Asberger’s Syndrome, the expectation that you’re a genius is as limiting as the assumption that you’re stupid.’
Does it have a happy ever after? What do you think? Of course it does, but it’s not an obvious, can see it coming a mile off, ending. It’s the right ending for Lucy and Merlin.
Until next time,
Liam Livings xx