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Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The most amazing book about autism you have never heard of!

Frenz, Florida (2013) How to be Human:  The Diary of an Autistic Girl.  Creston Books.

Image result for how to be human diary of an autistic girl

Opening lines:  "Not too long ago, my friend and I had a discussion about which was worse, anorexia or autism.  She argued anorexia was worse because it can kill you.  At the time, I couldn't come up with a good enough rebuttal, so the conversation ended."

Books can let us enter the minds, bodies, selves, and contexts of those who are different from us. Some recent books like The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime and The Speed of Darkness admirably use fictional characterizations to get us inside the minds of people who have autism.  This book is different from those in a couple of ways.  First of all, the author, who goes by the name Florida Frenz, is herself autistic.  Secondly, she wrote the book as she was growing up with autism. So it is truly from a kid's perspective.

 It includes a running narrative, her own illustrations, and several charts of the author's devising.  Her illustrations show us how, when she hears the sound of fingers snapping, it feels to her like "pushing soapy plates together"; the difference between the way she looks on the outside and what she feels like on the inside; what her internal emotional thermometer looks like; and lots of images of how she tries to navigate the differences between outside appearances and inside feelings.

This is not a long book -- it is bound like a children's picture book and comes out somewhere between 30 and 40 pages --but it is not really written for little kids.  Though the images break up the space of the page, there is a fair amount of text here.

This book would be great for upper elementary through college (and beyond) to help classmates, family members, friends, persons with autism, anyone who has ever felt like an alien in their own land, and pretty much anyone understand what one autistic person's take on life is like.  I found it interesting and compelling and well worth the read.


  1. This is a wonderful review. Thank you for spotlighting this brilliant book.

  2. Thank you for helping Florida to bring it to life!