After three recent reviews of books written by young autistic Canadians who grew up with a diagnosis, I’ve decided for review #21 to change things up a bit. This time, it’s returning to the books which I started with – memoirs from women on the spectrum who received their diagnosis as adults.
The majority of books on the spectrum come from Britain, the United States, and Australia, and so I was excited to see that this book was from a Dutch author, and in fact was originally published in Dutch.
What’s even more interesting is that she splits her time between the Netherlands and Japan, and this is something that Dr. Attwood refers to – that autistic may find it easier to live in a foreign country / culture where their differences may be better accepted as they are attributed to cultural differences rather than simply being innately different.
And so Bianca starts off with a cold opening (for which she created a short video on her kickstarter But You Don't Look Autistic At All
last year for this English translation.
Touching on delicate topics like eating disorders and family/relationship concerns, while also introducing snippets of stories from other autistics whom she interviewed, with frank take-no-prisioners opinions (she’s pro Intense World Theory and anti Theory of Mind), this truly is a refreshing look at autism.
Bianca speaks with confidence and humour, a combination not frequently seen, and I had a pretty good balance of “oh no!” and “lol” reactions when reading this book.
I also learned some interesting tidbits of random information.
Something that makes this book a fair bit different from earlier adult-diagnosed spectrum women books, like those written by Liane Holliday-Wiley, Samantha Craft, Cynthia Kim, and Jennifer Cook O’Toole, is that she’s not (or at least she didn’t identify as) a mom. As many of us are aware, a common way that many autistic women come to be diagnosed is when their children get a diagnosis, and in researching how to support their kids, they realize that they’re on the spectrum. As such, this book is a nice complement to those earlier books. It's also the first one I've seen directly reference #ActuallyAutistic.
Note: I’m an pretty easygoing person and admittedly, I give out a lot of high scores and likes (on this forum, I think I give out three times as many likes as I get). Each person gives ratings a different way. For me, I look at the writing itself, if the book contributes something new, including different perspectives, and style/originality. I also usually start with a 5.0 by default and you kind of have to frustrate me or bore me to get points knocked off. But that means I’m not really rewarding those who go above and beyond. With this book, and going forward, I am also introducing in my reviews a “5.5” score for books which I feel are truly outstanding and which I would recommend in general, without hesitation. Basically, the books which are 110%.