Books with well-written, canonically autistic characters
If you’re autistic, you’re probably tired of the only representation you see being a four-year-old little brother, or mysterious eccentric savant. I know I am, and that’s why I’ve decided to compile this list of three-dimensional autistic people in books. This was originally intended to be a masterpost, but there aren’t really enough for a masterpost, so feel free to add on if you’d like!
On the Edge of Gone- Corinne Duyvis
Book Description- January 29, 2035. That’s the day the comet is scheduled to hit—the big one.
Denise and her mother and sister, Iris, have been assigned to a temporary shelter near their hometown of Amsterdam to wait out the blast, but Iris is nowhere to be found, and at the rate Denise’s addicted mother is going, they’ll never reach the shelter in time.Then a last-minute encounter leads them to something better than a temporary shelter: a generation ship that’s scheduled to leave Earth behind and colonize new worlds after the comet hits.
But each passenger must have a practical skill to contribute. Denise is autistic and fears that she’ll never be allowed to stay. Can she obtain a spot before the ship takes flight? What about her mother and sister?
When the future of the human race is at stake, whose lives matter most?
My Review- I really, really, love this book. I’ve recommended it to everyone I know. Denise is Black, making this the first book I’ve found, and possibly the only book so far, to have a Black autistic character. Her autism is never seen as something that makes her lesser, and it’s a part of her she firmly refuses to apologize for, and even something that helps her out a few times. She’s also unquestionably a hero- putting her lives at risk to save others, and defying authority to do so. Her sister is trans, and it’s addressed very respectfully- she’s her own person, and an extraordinary one at that. It’s not a huge deal, and you never even find out her deadname, which is super nice. As an added bonus, the author herself is autistic! I would rip out my own heart for a sequel.
In the Absence of Light- Adrienne Wilder
For years Grant Kessler has smuggled goods from one end of the world to the next. When business turns in a direction Grant isn’t willing to follow he decides to retire and by all appearances he settles down in a nowhere town called Durstrand. But his real plan is to wait a few years and let the FBI lose interest, then move on to the distant coastal life he’s always dreamed of.
Severely autistic, Morgan cannot look people in the eye, tell left from right, and has uncontrolled tics. Yet he’s beaten every obstacle life has thrown his way. And when Grant Kessler moves into town Morgan isn’t a bit shy in letting the man know how much he wants him.
While the attraction is mutual, Grant pushes Morgan away. Like the rest of the world he can’t see past Morgan’s odd behaviors.
Then Morgan shows Grant how light lets you see but it also leaves you blind. And once Grant opens his eyes, he loses his heart to the beautiful enigma of a man who changes the course of his life.
My Review- This book was really refreshing. I can’t put into words how much it means to me to have an autistic character, especially a high-support one, written as a love interest. The book is told from Grant’s point of view, not Morgan’s, and he holds some really ableist viewpoints earlier on, but Morgan doesn’t hesitate to put him (or anyone else) in their places. I loved his snark and how he plays off people’s assumptions to put them in their places. Warnings for graphic descriptions of past abuse, and ableism from the characters and some unintentional ableist language (i.e. “severely autistic”) from the author.
Anything But Typical- Nora Baskin
Jason Blake is an autistic 12-year-old living in a neurotypical world. Most days it’s just a matter of time before something goes wrong. But Jason finds a glimmer of understanding when he comes across PhoenixBird, who posts stories to the same online site as he does.
Jason can be himself when he writes and he thinks that PhoneixBird-her name is Rebecca-could be his first real friend. But as desperate as Jason is to met her, he’s terrified that if they do meet, Rebecca will only see his autism and not who Jason really is.
My Review- I was a little wary going in, expecting it to be an inaccurate and dismal portrayal of autism, but I was pleasantly surprised! Jason is well-written and really resonated with me- I’m not sure if the author herself is autistic, but she definitely did her homework. It’s nice to see an autistic character portrayed as creative, and the book also addresses issues with ‘cure’ mentality and pressure put on autistic people to act more socially acceptable.