The Space We’re In

Katya Balen. Holiday House/Ferguson, $17.99 (208p) ISBN 978-0-8234-4289-8
Balen’s powerfully emotional debut tells the story of 10-year-old Frank and his five-year-old brother Max, who is autistic and nonverbal. Frank loves footie, codes and ciphers, and pretending to be a “wildboy” with his friends in the wilderness near his house; Max likes only four foods, hates bright colors, and will only wear one kind of T-shirt: “gray with yellow stripes.” Much of the siblings’ home life is organized around Max’s needs, sometimes leaving Frank feeling ignored, but their distracted parents are quick to give Frank special attention when he needs it. Frank’s dense stream-of-consciousness narration conveys authentic emotional shifts: trying to be sensitive to his brother’s particularities, but feeling frustrated that he doesn’t have “a normal brother” and finding himself unable to stand up to the schoolmates who mock Max. After a tragedy, Frank discovers inner strength that helps him connect with Max and produce a creative way for the family to process their grief. Balen, who has worked with autistic people in various settings, sensitively depicts the experience of love, and of loving a neurodiverse family member. Ages 8–12. Agent: Catherine Drayton, InkWell Management. (Oct.)
Reviewed on : 08/15/2019
Release date: 10/08/2019
Genre: Children's
Paperback - 176 pages - 978-0-8234-4744-2
Pre-Recorded Audio Player - 978-1-9871-8687-1
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