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The Turing Machinists.

The Turing Machinists

written by M.E. Reid

Dancing Cat Books, 2016

978-1-77086-466-5 (pb) $14.95

for Grades 8 to 12

Fiction | Asperger's Syndrome | Music | Bands | Overcoming Challenges

As a 17-year-old with Asperger's syndrome, Del Capp has a hard time relating to anyone--especially his father, who just wants Del to be "normal." With his family on the verge of coming apart, he forms an all-Asperger's rock band with his classmates. His goal--to win a battle of the bands contest and fulfill his father's one-time dream of being a rock star. In his neighbour, a reclusive former rock star, Del finds a band manager and a possible friend. But this group will have a tough time learning to play together when, for them, breaking out of a routine is the hardest thing in the world.

In her first young adult novel, M.E. Reid skilfully brings us into Del's world, illustrating the characteristics and challenges of Asperger's syndrome without sounding too clinical. As a mother of two autistic children herself, Reid shows us throughout the text that she knows this terrain. She does not make the mistake of venerating the characters with Asperger's--like other kids, they can be short-tempered and even violent.

Del is a believable and sympathetic character with a strong narrative voice. His awkward relationship with the former rock star, James Comfort, forms a good focal point, with both trying, and often failing, to understand the world the other lives in. The idiosyncratic exchanges between Del's classmates, sometimes turning hilarious and profane, are also a highlight. The tables are turned on James when he is surrounded by this group, no longer the "normal" one--one of many moments that makes us question what "normal" really means.

The Turing Machinists is an entertaining and honest novel that will make older readers think more complexly about the autism spectrum.

Ian Usher studies English at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.

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Article Details
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Author:Usher, Ian
Publication:Canadian Children's Book News
Article Type:Brief article
Date:Dec 22, 2016
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