Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Al Capone Does My Shirts (Gennifer Choldenko)

This is a book that just got better and better as I read it. It was the book for our parent-child book club...and I really enjoyed it! If you want a good synopsis check out this link.

My favorite line: When you love someone, you have to try things even if they don't make sense to anyone else.

The story is about a family that goes to live on Alcatraz Island because the dad gets a job as a guard. Their life there is quite interesting! There is a boy named Moore and a girl named Natalie. Natalie has autism (although autism didn't have a name back then). During the whole book the family is working towards getting Natalie into a special school....and in the end the brother is a big help in that regard. I love Moose's sarcism throughout the book. He starts off with, "I want to be on Alcatraz like I want poison oak on my private parts."....and only gets better from there.

The author brings up an interesting thing I've never thought about with autism. She quotes Oliver Sacks "We almost always speak of autistic children, never autistic adults, as if such children never grew up, or were somehow mysteriously spirited off the planet." (page 225)

One of my favorite book club discussions was when we read "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime" because two of the women there that night have siblings that are autistic...and the discussion was fascinating. I never thought about what it would be like to be a sibling of an autistic child and both these books have given me a surprising and a beautiful glimpse into what that would be like.

I liked that this book was based on fact. The Author's note at the end of the book gives some really neat insight into what life was like on Alcatraz. I've known a lot of people that have gone to visit Alcatraz and I have never really been that interested....but this book has brought a whole new thinking in that regard!

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