The State of Grace

Publisher: Pan Macmillan

Review

Grace is nearly 16, and like many girls her age, has a lot on her mind. Teen parties, unpleasant girls at school, squabbles with mum, partially absent dad, the gorgeous boy who actually seems to have noticed her... Then there's what to wear, whether she'll do or say the wrong thing and how to behave on a date. All concerns enough - but heightened by the fact that Grace has Asperger's syndrome.

The pressure of surviving the day, let alone getting everything 'right' can be exhausting. Thankfully, Grace has her loyal best friend - and horse Mabel - on whom she can always depend. However, life can be difficult and there are mistakes to be made. 'The day you stop learning,' her grandma points out, 'is the day you stop living.'

In this thoroughly absorbing story of first love, friendship and family tension, Asperger's syndrome neither defines nor stereotypes. Grace is a protagonist to which any young reader will relate. Yet, along the way, we learn so much about one individual's experience. We share the exhaustion, understand her anxiety about social interactions, see how overwhelming some situations are and totally 'get it' when she has no choice but to switch off.

A rare example of a convincing female protagonist with autism in a compelling and well-crafted romance.

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