Title: On the Spectrum
Author: Jennifer Gold
Genre & Age Group: Contemporary, young adult
Growing up in the shadow of a famous mother, Clara has never felt good about her body. Now, at sixteen, she has an unhealthy obsession with healthy eating. After a social media disaster, she decides to escape for the summer to Paris to stay with her estranged dad and her six-year-old brother, Alastair, who is on the autism spectrum. Charged with his care, Clara and Alastair set out to explore the city. Paris teaches Clara about first love and gives her a new love of food. And Alastair teaches Clara about patience, trust and the beauty of loving without judgment.
Source: Thanks so much to Second Story Press for providing me with an e-ARC of this book via Netgalley!
How I Found Out About It: Netgalley
I requested On the Spectrum with very high hopes. What drew me to request it was a) the fact that it took place in Paris, and b) the fact that one of its main characters had high-functioning autism, which some of my loved ones have. I was ultimately curious about its representation in this story, so I decided that I must dive in!
Despite the fact that in my opinion, the high-functioning autism piece was a bit over-represented, I found next to no other negatives about this book. It was such a sweet, heartwarming novel all about the bonds we make with family and how it is always right to keep them.💘
For a brief synopsis of the novel, it revolves around Clara, who is obsessed with eating healthily. She refuses to take a bite out of anything unhealthy, and she sticks with what she knows. This summer, she decides to go to Paris to stay with her dad and brother, Alastair. Alastair has an autism spectrum disorder, but in spite of that, the two set off together to explore the beautiful city of love.
The main character, Clara, was such a sweetheart! I felt so sorry for her regarding her circumstances at home and her eating disorder, but I feel like the whole experience with her family in Paris changed her for the better, making her a much stronger, more confident girl. The positive outlook on life that she gained was very evident while reading- it felt REAL, and I was very happy about that.
Despite the synopsis covering up any trace of romance in this book, there was still quite a bit of it between Clara and a swoon-worthy guy named Michel who, if I’m not mistaken, works at a bakery. Honestly, it was adorable, though uncalled for. This book could still have been amazing without the romance, but that’s just my opinion.
As for the high-functioning autism representation, I felt like it was a tiny bit overdone and exaggerated, if you get what I mean. I’m not saying it was bad, but it just wasn’t perfect. I know that every person on the spectrum functions a bit differently, but Alastair was given almost all of the traits that fall under it. I just found it unrealistic, is all. Also, unfortunately, I can’t really talk about the representation of the eating disorder that Clara had because I know nothing about it, but I’m guessing that it didn’t seem too bad.
For a contemporary, this book’s plot moved fairly quickly, but with my e-copy being about 200 pages long, that was totally fine with me! I’d prefer a short and sweet read over a long, slow read any day.☺️
One last thing I loved about On the Spectrum was its family ties. Clara’s budding relationship with Alastair was simply beautiful to watch, and Alastair was just so adorable! I also adored how Clara was able to re-bond with her father!
Overall, if you’re looking for a contemporary with a little bit of sparkle from everything, On the Spectrum is the book for you. Its characters were great, the plot was fast-paced, the romance and the family ties were amazing, and it was diverse. What more could you ask for?
*I received a digital ARC of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.*