ON THE SPECTRUM
Author: Jennifer Gold
Release Date: September 12, 2017 (my birthday!!)
Publisher: Second Story Press
Date Started/Finished: June 6-7, 2017
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Mental Health
RATING: 5 stars (⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐)
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.
“Special thanks to Netgalley and Second Story Press for providing me an eARC of On The Spectrum in exchange for an honest review.”
I knew there was a reason why I randomly requested this book. 🙂
On The Spectrum might look simple on the outside, but it’s certainly SMASHING on the inside. I never really expected it to WOW me but IT DID and I am forever grateful that I’ve stumbled upon this precious gem of a book.
Basically, the story is about an orthorexic teenager named Clara who escapes to Paris for one summer after being involved in a huge Twitter disaster. She stays with her estranged dad, his anti-American wife Mag and their 6-year-old autistic son named Alastair, whom her father had tasked her to look after. During her time there, Clara gets to know her brother more and also tries to overcome her food issues with the help of a hot French baker named Michel.
There are so many things I could say about this book but I think that one review would never be enough.
WHAT I LIKED:
- On The Spectrum is my favorite novel set in Paris. If you knew me, you’d know I’m not much of a Paris fan. Too mainstream and overused for romantic settings. However, this book showed up and made me truly fall in love with the city with the characters’ excursions.
- I think the author gave quite an accurate representation of orthorexia and autism. The honesty of her writing style gives me a simple but clear view of people who have these illnesses. It helped me understand their mindset and behavior and the difficulties that come along with their circumstances. I never even heard of orthorexia or the term ‘on the spectrum’ before, but thanks to this novel I was able to learn some things new. When I think about it too, orthorexia seems rather ironic since a person who has this (like Clara and her mother) are so fixated on healthy eating that they limit so much of their food choices to the point where it’s unnatural. But for people who are so dedicated to a healthy lifestyle, their overly restrictive eating is also what makes their health suffer. From a food-lover’s standpoint, it’s hard to imagine what Clara is going through but as a reader, you can’t really bring yourself to judge her for her eating habits either.
- It’s also no surprise that my favorite character here was Alastair. I love his quirks, the way he perceives the world and his relationship with Clara. It affected me so much the first time he said I love you to Clara, I had tears running down my face. Seeing how they started off as complete strangers and became quickly attached to each other was incredibly touching. They also helped each other grow, and for that they get most-favorite-siblings-of-the-year award.
- Lots of discussions about FOOD. Despite Clara’s intense dislike for food, it didn’t prevent me from enjoying the various food descriptions throughout the book. It made me really hungry. And since I had nothing French-related food in my fridge, I opted to eat honeydew watermelon slices instead.
- It’s also funny the way the author paired Clara the food-hater with Michel, the baker. (I’m just saying.) Their differences lay mainly in their perception of food, but I like the fact that Michel tried to help Clara with her eating problem. Michel also has Algerian roots though he was raised in Paris and there were touches of racism in his stories to Clara. I also like how he was already friends with Alastair from the beginning so that earns him some points.
- This book relays the importance of family. It just makes me happy to read about estranged/difficult families fixing their relationships with other family members or rebuilding their lives after having experienced a tough phase. I already mentioned that I love Clara and Alastair’s relationship, but it was also wonderful to see Clara’s interactions with her mom, dad and even Mag.
- Even though this book deals with serious issues like eating disorders, autism, family feuds and hints of racism – IT DID NOT FEEL HEAVY OR DEPRESSING AT ALL. In fact, it was very humorous and the book did not try to ply me with pitiful internal monologues and the like.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE:
- Too short! It really surprised me when I found out I’ve reached the last page. I wasn’t prepared. Even though the story was wrapped up nicely, I still couldn’t get enough of the characters, the writing, and what’ll happen next. This is one of those instances where I wish that the book had a sequel.
- The French terms. I literally don’t speak any French and would’ve appreciated it if there was a glossary or something at the end of the book. I did understand some when the characters explained it or else, I just used context clues.
All in all, I can safely recommend this book to everyone. On The Spectrum was truly a heartfelt read that will make you laugh and cry, and readjust your perspective. Trust me when I say this book is worth it.
☑ Mental health issues ☑ sibling & parental relationships
☑ Paris backdrop ☑ food and wanderlust
☑ slight romance ☑ light-hearted humor
☑ endearing characters ☑ wonderful writing style
I URGE EVERYBODY TO READ IT!
( Blogger’s note: I apologize to those people who had tagged me for awards/book tags/memes that I haven’t done yet. I promise I’ll get to them one of these days. I can’t say exactly when since my schedule and moods are forever changing. But I’m really sorry, guys! Hope you forgive me and please don’t think I’ve forgotten or ignored you. 🙂 )
Once again, thanks for stopping by Lovelies! ‘Til my next review. 😉