This book is a semi-autobiographical non-fiction story about living with autism and about the realisation on the part of the protagonist Abi that she is not only autistic but also gay. The journey that the reader undertakes with Abi is gloriously non-linear. The narrative follows the somewhat erratic course of Abi’s thoughts as one line of recollection or reasoning is suddenly abandoned in favour of another. This effect is somewhat disjointed but wholly natural and convincing. One of Abi’s novel terminologies is to call people who are not autistic ‘allistic’.
Balfe’s most remarkable achievement is that in her book she uses clear, unpretentious and colloquial language to describe phenomena that are anything but congenial, such as bullying, a debilitating fear of using public toilets (a characteristic of autistic people that is all too common but which is rarely acknowledged let alone discussed), the menstrual cycle and the suitability of various associated products (another topic rarely discussed in detail for this age group), gender identity and sexuality. The author also freely admits that as a teenager she made various mistakes. She also admits with disarming honesty that even as an adult she finds certain situations challenging and has to resort to various strategies to deal with them. Her cartoons are vivid and memorable and help in the explanation of some difficult themes.
In this reviewer’s opinion this book will be useful to teachers of children at any stage from upper KS2, whether those children are autistic or allistic.