From School Library Journal
Gr 5 Up-Colin Fischer, 14, has Asperger's syndrome. He is highly intelligent, but incapable of reading social cues and struggles to navigate everyday situations. When he enters high school, he faces bullies, class clowns, cliques, and a mystery: Who brought the gun to school that went off in the cafeteria? He soon becomes convinced that the bully, Wayne, who is temporarily suspended, is not guilty. As he works to exonerate Wayne, everyone wonders why he would help someone who dunked him in the toilet on the first day of school. For Colin, it is not a matter of helping the bully, but of making sure that the truth comes out. He eventually proves Wayne is innocent and in the process makes a new friend. Each chapter starts out with an excerpt from Colin's diary, giving facts about Asperger's, a clever device to avoid didactic writing. Colin's family interactions, including squabbles with his younger brother, who resents his sibling's special needs, render him sympathetic. Overall, this book succeeds in making Colin a believable character, deeply rooted in his disability, but always a person first.-Wendy Smith-D'Arezzo, Loyola College, Baltimore, MDα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
The robotic nature of 14-year-old Colin’s severe Asperger’s syndrome has made him a bit of an outcast at school. He uses a set of flash cards to help identify people’s facial emotions. He keeps a journal filled with people’s reactions, so that he may better elicit them in the future. And he is unintentionally blunt. (To a friend he hasn’t seen for months: “Your breasts got bigger.”) It is precisely these qualities that make him the ideal witness to a shocking event: a gun going off in the middle of the cafeteria. With unparalleled powers of observation and deduction—Sherlock Holmes is his hero—Colin examines the facts until he is forced, by sheer logic, to come to the defense of the accused Wayne, a bully who has long tortured Colin. Miller and Stentz keep the page plenty busy, setting off each emotion that Colin identifies in a larger font (“MALICE,” “HESITATION”) and including handwritten scraps from Colin’s journal. Happily, they succeed where it counts the most—crafting the mechanical Colin into a sympathetic and dynamic character. Grades 5-8. --Daniel Kraus