Summary: Good Different
Selah knows there’s something different about her. She’s uncomfortable with overstimulation and can’t seem to instinctively figure out social cues, so she follows the rules; does what others do/expect her to do in those situations. But when she’s home, she practically crashes, needing to recover from shapeshifting all day. She’s doing okay, until one day she hits a fellow student who keeps trying to braid Selah’s hair. This leads to a series of events ending in an Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnosis and the realization that although she’s different, it’s good different.
Selah copes with her feelings by writing, and she has a unique interest in dragons, imagining that she’s a dragon in a world of humans. She has some supportive people in her life, like her Pop, who seems to be on the spectrum himself and has maladjusted in some ways to defend himself from people who misunderstand him. Selah eventually teaches him how to balance standing up for himself with being considerate of others’ feelings.
I also liked the author’s portrayal of Selah’s mom, who seems to have anxious tendencies. She wants her daughter to stay out of trouble and not be labeled, but over time she learns to understand and advocate better for Selah while managing her own emotions. While Selah unintentionally responds violently to overstimulation, she does face consequences for her actions, and the incident makes some fellow students more curious about her behavior.
This was such a great read. I really liked Selah and enjoyed the accessible way the author presents Selah’s symptoms and the realistic route she takes to figure out a diagnosis and coping mechanisms. It provides readers with a solid opportunity to learn about the autism spectrum, what it means, how it manifests, and why there should be no stigma associated.
Overall: Good Different
Good Different is a powerful verse exploration of life on the autism spectrum and the illuminating experience of finally understanding oneself. This book is greatly enriched by the author’s personal experience of being diagnosed in adulthood and is bound to evoke empathy and an increased understanding of the stress that masking and having to survive in a neurotypical world produces for neurodivergent people. If you love verse novels and protagonists who love to write, you’ll enjoy this new release.