What to read after... Dread Wood 28/02/24
Ways To Be Me
It is Year 6, a time of considerable change and copious tests, with transition to senior school looming on the horizon. Ten-year-old Tally is finding it especially hard, with everyone around her growing up fast and knowing all the unspoken rules, apparently breezing through life without major difficulty.
One big positive is the forthcoming summer play. Tally knows she is good enough to take the lead role. In fact she deserves, it doesn’t she? It’s her opportunity to shine, be cool, feel accepted. She just needs to a bit of luck and to focus extra hard on fitting in.
Co-written by an author and a young autistic person (and a prequel to two other titles), the book introduces the family while on the road to a diagnosis. Tally is struggling with how to conform and endure experiences such as going to parties and receiving birthday presents – things that neurotypicals assume to be a pleasure but which are actually agonisingly difficult for her.
Beautifully multidimensional, Tally is loveable but equally fallible, often making mistakes, some linked to being neurodivergent, some just being human. It’s easy to see how some of her behaviour can be misunderstood or perceived as challenging. Particularly refreshingly, the book shows us that adults get things wrong too.
Tally’s story of family, friendship and growing up will resonate with any young person while also busting many an autism myth.