Most people probably don't understand how an autistic person thinks or what goes through her mind. In this fictional story about an autistic girl named Ginny Moon, the author - who adopted an autistic teenager - seems to unravel the mystery a little bit.
The story: When Ginny LeBlanc was 9-years-old the police tore her away from her drug-addicted, abusive birth mother, named Gloria. The autistic girl - who was neglected, bruised, undernourished, and seriously injured - didn't have time to retrieve her baby doll from the suitcase under her bed.....and she's been trying to get it back ever since.
Ginny is now 14-years-old and living with her third 'Forever Family', Maura and Brian Moon, in the 'Blue House.' Maura is pregnant with the couple's first baby, so Ginny is given a plastic electronic doll to prepare her for the birth. When Ginny is unable to make the doll stop crying, she treats it roughly, covers it with blankets, and stashes it in a suitcase under the bed. Of course this alarms the Moons, who fear Ginny might hurt a real infant.
Ginny organizes her life around numbers. She eats nine grapes with breakfast every day; goes to bed at nine o'clock every night; counts off the seconds when something makes her anxious; is always aware exactly what time it is; and will only respond when asked a single question at a time. In addition, Ginny meticulously differentiates between 'exact' situations and 'approximate' situations. If Ginny needs a break from her surroundings - or has to figure something out - she 'goes into her brain.' And when Ginny wants to keep something secret she clamps her lips tightly shut and covers her mouth with her hands.
Ginny likes puzzles, coloring books, movies, and bacon and onion pizzas - but her favorite thing in the world is Michael Jackson. Ginny listens to the singer's music, decorates her bedroom with his posters, wears Michael Jackson T-shirts, and so on.
Ginny is not allowed to use telephones or computers. That's because Ginny is constantly trying to contact her birth mom. The autistic teen is determined to go back to Gloria's apartment so she can retrieve her baby doll and 'take excellent care of it.' The Moons fear that - if Gloria learns of Ginny's whereabouts - she'll come by and make a huge scene (or worse). Thus Ginny is monitored constantly, but - being exceptionally clever and devious - manages to contact Gloria on Facebook. This leads to all kinds of trouble since Ginny will do anything - even engineer her own abduction - to get her baby doll.
Ginny's conduct - which includes fighting, sneaking out, and stealing - greatly disturbs the Moons, and things get even worse when Baby Wendy is born. Ginny becomes so obsessed with the infant that Maura has to hide in the bedroom with the newborn. That leaves Brian to take care of the teenager, and he gives it his absolute best. Ginny's counselor, Patrice, tries to help the autistic girl follow the rules, but can't always fathom what Ginny is thinking.
At school, Ginny attends special education classes, plays basketball on a Special Olympics team, and eats lunch with her special ed classmates. One student, Larry - who has a crush on Ginny - is an accomplice in some of the girl's misbehavior. The author doesn't specify that Larry is autistic, but he expresses himself through music - singing songs to convey his thoughts and feelings. (I think a book about Larry would be very interesting.)
It's fascinating to watch Ginny try to accomplish her goal, which she describes as follows: When Ginny was nine-years-old and had her baby doll she was (Ginny). Now she's (-Ginny).
(Ginny) ≠ (-Ginny)
So Ginny has to go back across the equal sign to make things right.
It's also interesting to see Ginny interact with her Forever Parents, teachers, friends, grandparents, and others. At one point Ginny tries to gouge out someone's eyes, so they can't see her anymore.....and this type of conduct is seriously alarming. It's understandable that Ginny's Forever Parents would be at their wits end.
This well-written, compelling story leads to a dramatic climax, but the finale is somewhat unrealistic (to me). I feel like the actions of the characters don't completely fit with what's gone on previously (though I can understand why the author went in this directon). Of course, other readers may feel differently.
This is a very good book, highly recommended.
Rating: 3.5 stars