We’ve reached the end of National Novel Writing Month on the blog! Hopefully you’ve discovered some new books and had some early Christmas present inspiration. Our last book of the month is a rather unique one, ‘The Reason I Jump’ by Naoki Higashida.
Unlike the other books reviewed this month, ‘The Reason I Jump’ isn’t about anything specifically Japanese or obviously set in Japan but it comes from the mind of the famous Japanese author Naoki Higashida, an autistic teenager. This book is, as it says on the cover, one boy’s voice from the silence of autism. If you have an interest in the human mind, psychology or autism, it is worth a read.
Amazingly, Naoki wrote this book when he was 13. Even more amazingly, he ‘typed’ it by pointing to letters on a cardboard grid. Autism affects people’s ability to communicate and express themselves, so the author’s achievement is doubly amazing. The book follows a Q&A format to explore the many confusing aspects of autism: Why can’t you have a proper conversation? Why do you make a huge fuss over tiny mistakes? What’s the reason you jump? The answer to each question is no more than two pages long, so it’s a very easy read and understand. Reading about autism from the perspective of someone who actually experiences is incredibly insightful.
‘The Reason I Jump’ is a rather quick read (it took me only two days to get through) and is sandwiched between an introduction from David Mitchell, whose book we featured earlier this month and whose own son has autism, and a short story by Naoki which is also fantastically written.
I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in learning about autism or has a friend or child with autism, as it really is insightful and remarkable given that the author himself has autism. I’ll leave you with this passage to round off the blog’s NaNoWriMo celebrations.
For a long time I’ve been wondering why us people with autism can’t talk properly. I can never say what I really want to. Instead, verbal junk that hasn’t got anything to do with anything comes pouring out of my mouth. This used to get me down badly, and I couldn’t help envying all those people who speak without even trying. Our feelings are the same as everyone else’s, but we can’t find a way to express them.