The Book Mark

Books that make the grade.

Best Boy

9781631490477

This weekend we went away for a long weekend and the book I brought with me was Best Boy (B) by Eli Gottlieb. It caught my attention on several review lists that I read and since it appeared similar to The Rosie Project; I thought I’d give it a read.

Todd is a 50-year-old autistic man who after living in several institutions has found a home at the Payton Living Center. Here, he leads a routine existence that keeps him focused and balanced. Here, he has very few “volts” episodes. (When he is overwhelmed and not in control he feels as if volts of electricity are shooting through him.)

When a new counselor is introduced, Todd immediately senses a threat to his well-being. The vibes he is picking up from Mike Hinton are disturbing and alarming. Mike reminds him of his abusive Dad. Todd’s instincts are more than correct because Mike has singled Todd out as the resident who can most “help” him at Payton.

Gottlieb has written about autism before and from what I have read very successfully (The Boy Who Went Away). I did not read that, however, since I read The Rosie Project that is what I made my comparison to. I could clearly envision Todd’s anxieties and distress. What troubled me a bit is that since the book was written in the first person (just like The Rosie Project) I felt at times he sounded as if he were speaking about himself rather than for himself. I mean to say he sounded as if he were making observations of someone named Todd who was autistic. I never had that feeling with The Rosie Project – I think Don Tillman’s voice was more honest and authentic.

Nevertheless, Best Boy is worth reading. It did make me a bit anxious and uncomfortable at times but that only meant that I was involved with the story. I am glad that I read it even though for me it couldn’t compare to The Rosie Project.

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