Monday, March 14, 2011

Kissing the Clueless: The Half-Life of Planets

I'm reading books on or about Aspergers Syndrome, since someone I love has been diagnosed.  He and I were getting tired of the books about dealing with the problem, which he doesn't even consider a problem, so I gave us a break by switching to fiction for a while.  Emily Franklin and Brendan Halpin's The Half-life of Planets mentions Hank's Aspergers syndrome on the jacket flap, and in his alternating chapters he's very clear on lack of social awareness, but it's interesting to see Liana's view of him before and after she learns of his condition. How much of the confidence and willingness to go his own way is an innate part of him, and how much is just a symptom of a disorder?

Although I thought Hank was mostly realistically portrayed (I had a few problems with the last few plot twists, since they seemed rather uncharacteristic of a boy whose main problems earlier in the book had been withholding information), he didn't feel like a poster boy for Aspergers, which was good for the book although it made my ostensible reason for reading it rather moot. But reading a book is its own justification, especially when I also really enjoyed Liana's story. Although not sexually promiscuous, she has been enjoying the lips of quite a few boys in town, especially those of musically interesting boys. She spends the summer deciding how much this defines her and how much control she has over her own body, while Hank spends the summer in awe that he is talking to a girl rather than watching her run away.

I have a few tiny quibbles. Both character's final plot twists seemed unlikely, although I found Liana's more plausible.  Looking at the book, I see two authors and two separate voices, and I wonder whether they worked together on the whole thing or just wrote their own people. And I'm putting the book down as New Jersey (I emailed Franklin and she said that was reasonable) but it doesn't actually say.

I doubt my son would be interested, as he doesn't find romance or rock music at all interesting, but I'll offer it to him. And I just realized that this is my second YA book this year to focus on music so heavily, so I seem to have a bit of a theme going here.   B+

PS. I made a real effort here to use single spaces after a sentence, and I think it's really ugly. The typographical purists who bemoan the double space are clearly insane.

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