Autism, Books, Lifestyle, Reviews

REVIEW: The State of Grace by Rachael Lucas

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Blurb:

Sometimes I feel like everyone else was handed a copy of the rules for life and mine got lost.

Grace has Asperger’s and her own way of looking at the world. She’s got a horse and a best friend who understand her, and that’s pretty much all she needs. But when Grace kisses Gabe and things start to change at home, the world doesn’t make much sense to her any more.

Suddenly everything threatens to fall apart, and it’s up to Grace to fix it on her own.

Whip-smart, hilarious and unapologetically honest, The State of Grace by Rachael Lucas is a heart-warming story of one girl trying to work out where she fits in, and whether she even wants to

*SPOILER FREE*

Here’s something ironic for you to get this review started. The autistic spectrum is represented as something colourful and bright. Diverse and different. A literal rainbow. Where is the irony here? That autism is represented as anything but diverse and different. Usually, autism is represented as one of these two things:

  1. A white, cis and straight male (of any age, really) who usually have some sort of great talent that happens to be useful to neurotypical people and/or is outrageously smart. These people are part of the spectrum, but they’re not the whole spectrum
  2. Autistic people shown through the lens of a parent with an autistic child/children. We’re usually called “with autism” instead of the preferred “am autistic” and they are brimmed to the capacity of offensive stereotypes

This was not one of those books. Lets start with the positives (I really enjoy numbered lists and it also stops me from fangirling a little too hard)

Positives 

  1. Books like The State of Grace, an #OwnVoices short and middle grade novel, are vital for autistic people to feel represented and almost like something out there in the universe understands and is metaphorically holding out a hand so we are less alone and feel less attacked. They’re something up there that actually supports the colorful spectrum autistic logo.
  2. This book punched the stereotypes in the face and I love it for that. As you know from the blurb, this is a romance contemporary and autistic people are regularly left out of romantic novels. At best, our usual representation is the “quirky friend” who’s more interested in scientific theory than romantic or sexual relationships.
  3. Grace tackles her first proper relationship and all those god awful lovely and new feelings that come racing along with it. She challenges everyday life, the same as any teenager would do, with all the autistic traits alongside with her.
  4. It represented autism incredibly well, which of course was always going to be the case when someone who is actually autistic writes it. Everything down to how the volume of the world is turned up on full blast to how little things add up quick and can make us overwhelmed.
  5. Autistic rep that isn’t male will always make me boost the book up by a star (well, if it’s a good rep)
  6. It was so lovely and light hearted, it really focused well on relationships that aren’t romantic (even more than the romantic aspect itself). I loved the sister bond and the healthy, un-competitive friendship between Grace and her best friend Anna. I loved the highlighting of how their friendship was and is just as important as any other friendship. I loved how Grace always spoke of Anna and narrated about her with such love.
  7. It was very British. I’m used to reading books from Canada or the USA, or at least located in Canada or the USA, so reading something from my home made it feel soft and warm. Even more so because this is from the countryside, Wales, which is the specific location of Britain that I happen to be settled in. It’s not very often I read about books set in Wales, I think I’ve only read one before this (Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, if that counts).
  8. Grace was a very complex and developed character. She was human and the way autistic folk are written, it makes us seem like emotionless robots (which is actually something that was spoken about in the book). Grace is so complex she can’t possibly be a robot
  9. I like how it’s seen from Grace’s point of view so the world around her doesn’t have answers like we’d usually expect from a YA/middle grade (or really, any) book. I don’t know if this was done on purpose but, with how autism works for me, the way people act and move and work has no purpose and no direction and no sense. That’s how characters who aren’t Grace appear to be acting, or Grace is so involved with her own head the narrative doesn’t focus on others – which is also how my mind works
  10. I like how the book doesn’t flow well. I know this might not have been done on purpose but, again, for me it represented how the autistic thought pattern can regularly be like for me
  11. It contained this quote: “You don’t look autistic” “And you don’t look ignorant but here we are”
  12. Represented quite well how teachers are rude and don’t even try to understand autistic children, they want to teach and help NT children and that’s where they draw the line. Even the ones that do don’t have the resources to help us because schools were only really made for neurotypical children.
  13. I want every autistic person (especially female/enby) to read this.
  14. I want every family member of an autistic person to read this so they stop being such a newt

Negatives 

  1. It was short, and therefore I felt the story wasn’t developed like it could have been and was compressed into just over two hundred pages. I would really like if things had been explained a bit more in depth and characters other than Grace also had a story told through Grace
  2. The ending felt a bit rushed and I wanted to know a bit more about what happened to the characters
  3. I wanted more depth into Gabe because I still don’t know who he is and he doesn’t seem to have much of a personality at all

I gave this book four out of five stars. I’m still so thrilled that I found a book about autism. I was diagnosed at ten or eleven (I forgot) and I am now almost twenty one. I haven’t read a single book with good female autistic rep until now and I could cry! I’ve been recommended two other books with autistic rep in them (OwnVoices, also, I wouldn’t read them if they weren’t) so when I finally get my hands on them, expect the reviews to pop up on here because the world deserves more good autistic characters.

READ IT

Lorna

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