A New Year with a New Book
I’d like to tell you, the mini blog visitors, about this new book, Rebecca & Heart. Written for a young adult audience, it should have wide appeal to teens and adults as well. Autism is a frequent talking point these days on facebook, in magazines, and the news in general. So is bullying. Both are building a fan base for their causes.
This book, which I began in 2010, is being released this week. Rebecca, an orphan in pre-World War II London, is autistic. Autism wasn’t a word yet, and the disorder had no diagnosis or treatment protocol. Children with the disorder were considered to be “odd.”
Bullying was around then, too, as it always has been, but was credited mostly with boys being boys or nasty girls being catty. The behavior was generally unpunished waiting for children to grow out of it.
Autistic children were rare for that generation and for lack of understanding, the children were often neglected, uneducated, bullied, and even abused. It was frustrating for the afflicted, and for those who were charged with their care. No one had figured out how to reach them in their silent, distant, and “odd” world.
Sitting alone on the kitchen stoop shelling peas, Rebecca sees the creature watching her. Both avoid eye contact. Neither wants to be touched. Both are curious. When Rebecca discovers she can communicate with the animal without words, and when the furry creature realizes her hands are summoning him, a friendship takes root in Rebecca’s silent world, and in the heart of a stray dog. A girl who doesn’t speak and a dog who doesn’t understand human language form a bond that sustains them through the chaos of war, and the perils of growing up. Change comes over the household, as her new family learns from Heart the dog how to negotiate the frustrations that befall them and how to communicate in quieter ways.
I’m overjoyed that two professionals in the field of autism read the manuscript and submitted their comments to the publisher for the back cover. Both believe Rebecca & Heart is an important book for our time. Today autism is not rare. It afflicts one in 68 children in America. This means that most of our students will, at some time in their school career, meet someone like Rebecca. I hope that knowing Rebecca and Heart and their story will help them to become a friend who can appreciate the uniqueness of their new friend, and will suggest tools for communicating with each other.
The book is published by Progressive Rising Phoenix Press in Aledo, TX, and is available wherever books are sold.