Title: Are You Seein Me?
Author: Darren Groth
Published by: Orca Book Publishers
Publishing date: March 7th 2017
Twins Justine and Perry have left their home in Australia and embarked on the road trip of a lifetime in the Pacific Northwest.
It’s been a year since their dad lost his battle with cancer and Justine became the sole caregiver for her autistic brother, Perry. Now Perry has been accepted into an assisted-living residence in their hometown, Brisbane, Australia, but before he takes up residence, they’re seeking to create the perfect memory. For Perry, the trip is a glorious celebration of some of his favorite things: Ogopogo, Jackie Chan movies, and earthquakes. For Justine, it’s an opportunity to learn how to let go of Perry and of her boyfriend, Marc. Justine also wants to offer their mother the chance to atone for past wrongs.
But the instability that has shaped their lives will not subside, and the seismic event that Perry forewarned threatens to reduce their worlds to rubble…
Are You Seeing Me? is a bittersweet, beautiful and touching story that revolves around the personal journeys of the characters and the relationships between them. I’ll admit that it took me a long time to get into the story, because the writing style wasn’t for me. Groth’s writing felt really choppy, especially at the beginning;he uses really short sentences and that doesn’t allow the story to flow. But at the end, I did manage to get over that and enjoy the book.
This story is about Australian twins. Perry is Autistic and Justine is his main caregiver, this is told in dual perspective, so we get to hear from both Perry and Justine. They are both wonderful and they love each other so much and I just wanted to cry over it. Their love for each other was the best part of the book and seeing them try to protect each other’s happiness was bittersweet at times, because in some situations it meant sacrificing what they wanted or were hoping for.
Justine is an amazing character, she is caring, patient, smart and funny, but she’s scared and stressed all the time because she has so much on her plate. As for Perry, he sometimes makes people feel uncomfortable because of the way he responds to situations, but he’s also articulate, smart and funny. Both of them are very compelling and likeable characters. I think it’s important to mention that the Autistic rep is NOT #ownvoices, but the author has a son that is Autistic and he wrote the book for him and his twin sister. I can’t really speak about how accurate the rep is, but here’s an #ownvoices review of the book.
One thing that I would like to mention is that Perry sometimes makes up movies on his mind and most of the time it’s easy to tell that it what he’s describing isn’t real. Nonetheless, at the end of the book, there’s a long and important part of the story that’s completely told like it’s a movie that Perry is making up in his mind, but at least part of it isn’t, and that makes it odd and a bit confusing. Even if that part didn’t work for me personally, I undertand that it shows how Perry processes the world and how he deals with intense, scary things that feel out of his control.
Now, in terms of other elements that I enjoyed, thorughout the book there are inserts of a diary the twins father kept for Justine since her birth until he passed away, and those parts are captivating and so emotional and it’s a great element of the story that adds depth to it and allows Groth to tell the backstory of their lives in an interesting way. The storyline with the mom is also fantastic, I loved how her relationship with each twin develops, and how even with all the hurt, anger and disappointment that she had caused, we get to see her create new bonds with her children.
Overall, this is a heartwarming and bittersweet story with lovable characters and I would totally recommend it.
Rating: 3,6 stars
Have you read this series? Are you planning on reading it? What books with autistic rep would you recommend? What books with great siblings relationships would you recommend?
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