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Fragile Bones - Review by Hannah, Teen Blogger

Every year around 50,000 books printed in the United States are fiction [Editor’s Note: see this 2014 statistical report from Bowker].  I can't help but notice that the majority of those novels are similar in one way or another.  In my opinion they are written about something of no importance (e.g. mystery, murders, female and soldier romance ending with the soldier death, magic, aliens invasion, etc.).  I have read quite a number of books in my short lifetime, but I would be lying if I said many really made a difference or had any useful meaning/value.  That was the main reason why I was jumping head over heels to be reading Fragile Bones by Lorna Schultz Nicholson.  It is truly a unique book.  The author, through her writing, casts awareness for mental illness but more specifically Autism Spectrum Disorder.  It sheds a realistic but positive image of mental illness, which seems to be a rare thing in the world we live today.  Often times we see in movies, books, TV shows and society people with mental illness portrayed as crazy psychopath serial killers, when in real life that is not the case.

This novel features stories of students in the Best Buddies program, which pairs teens with developmental disabilities with "peer buddies" for the purpose of social interaction and supporting diversity.  Harrison has high functioning autism.  He has an unusual fixation on the human anatomy.  This surfaces whenever he feels anxious: he starts to list bones and medical facts.  He participates in the Best Buddies program in his mother's hope of him being more comfortable in social situations.  Anna joins the program to enhance her med-school application.  As the story progresses so does the friendship between the two very different students.  I find that very encouraging that people as different as Anna and Harrison can put their differences aside and develop a meaningful friendship.

This is a 2-in-1 book, having been told through the lens of two characters.  The chapters alternate, narrated from each character's viewpoint.  I found that this was one of the highlights of the book because it allowed me to see the difference in the way Harrison and Anna experienced the same situations.  It is especially effective in Harrison case, by showing the unusual way some people with a mental illness (autism) process information.

As I read this book, I learned so many new things.  This type of subject is not often written about and I admire the author's courage and talent.  I enjoyed most the simplest way, with a hint of humour, the story was described.  The novel sinks deeply into diversity, inclusion and global awareness.  I feel honored to be reading a book driven by those values.


Teen Blogger


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