This was sent to me by another blogger after I won it in a giveaway. I am certainly going to be passing it along to another blogger.
Release Date: 24/04/14
Format: Paperback, 192pp
Summed up in a word: Exceptional
I have been reading quite a few books centred around Autism recently, but The Reason I Jump is definitely the most meaningful as it is written by an author who is autistic himself. Written by Naoki when he was just 13 years old, The Reason I Jump gives us an extraordinary insight into what an individual with Autism goes through day-to-day. Naoki has answered questions that so many mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, sons and daughters have been plagued with when they see their loved one dealing with this life altering condition. I was glad to have read this book and I highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in learning more about a condition that affects 1 in 100 people. More information at: http://www.autism.org.uk/about/what-is/asd.aspx.
Written by Naoki Higashida when he was only thirteen, this remarkable book provides a rare insight into the often baffling behaviour of autistic children. Using a question and answer format, Naoki explains things like why he talks loudly or repeats the same questions, what causes him to have panic attacks, and why he likes to jump. He also shows the way he thinks and feels about his world – other people, nature, time and beauty, and himself. Abundantly proving that people with autism do possess imagination, humour and empathy, he also makes clear how badly they need our compassion, patience and understanding.
David Mitchell and his wife have translated Naoki’s book so that it might help others dealing with autism and generally illuminate a little-understood condition. It gives us an exceptional chance to enter the mind of another and see the world from a strange and fascinating perspective.
The book also features eleven original illustrations, inspired by Naoki’s words, by the artistic duo Kai and Sunny.
There is so much to appreciate about The Reason I Jump. From the moving and relevant introduction from David Mitchell, a brilliant author who co-translated this book, to Naoki’s fascinating, honest and admirable approach to his own condition. Formatted as a Q&A, Naoki answers some pressing questions that people are desperate to know the answer to. Written using an system that Naoki’s mother created so they could communicate, Naoki goes into detail about all the experiences that autistic individuals deal with day-to-day. He addresses his feelings of frustration and embarrassment at the inability to control his language or behaviour. I could sense Naoki’s relief at being able to communicate and explain his side of the story.
“We are misunderstood, and we’d give anything if only we could be understood properly. People with autism would be suffering breakdowns over this – all the time – if we weren’t holding ourselves so tightly. Please, understand what we really are, and what we’re going through.”
Quote from page 122.
There are so many misconceptions when it comes to autism and this book aims to clarify a few experiences and issues with thoughts and behaviour. I thought Naoki’s outlook on his autism was inspiring, he wants people to understand what is going on inside his head. He wants people to know that a lot of the behaviour associated with autism is involuntary and that a lot of autistic people are just desperate to connect with people on a human level. His use of words, painstakingly written letter by letter, warmed my heart. He approaches each question with honesty and fortitude. I have so many quotes that I want to share but I don’t want to overstep the mark. I will just share a few.
I was moved so much Naoki’s writing, he shows such an understanding of the world around him and even pleads to ‘us normal people’ to understand what might be going on under the exterior.
“You must be thinking: ‘Is he never going to learn?’ We know we’re making you sad and upset, but it’s as if we don’t have any say in it, I’m afraid, and that’s the way it is. But please, whatever you do, don’t give up on us. We need your help.”
Quote from page 28.
It was so interesting to see things from Naoki’s perspective. How he sees life in so far from what we see and I was inspired. It upset me that Naoki had so much to say about grief and causing issues for loved ones. Some of the questions really got to me; why they even had to be asked. Naoki’s poetic answers to these questions made me smile. Taking about why he acts the way he does, he has to explain it using imagery and imagination.
“But constrained both by ourselves and by the people around us, all we can do is tweet-tweet, flap our wings and hop around in a cage. Ah, if only I could just flap my wings and soar away, into the big blue yonder, over the hills and far away.”
Quote from page 77.
My two favourite things about this book are centred around story telling. Naoki includes some amazing little stories, anecdotes and parables to highlight a certain thought or feeling that may overwhelm him at times. These stories elaborate on key ideological and psychological issues that Naoki and other autistic individuals may be dealing with at any one time. The thing I loved most about this book is the story at the end. I think it sums up the content perfectly and it is truly moving. I cried during the potent and meaningful narrative; it was an exceptional piece. Naoki is full of wisdom and has a special outlook on life that has helped him achieve so much.
I highly recommend this to all readers. Please support Naoki and his mission to speak out for those who cannot communicate for themselves. The Reason I Jump is a ground breaking piece of non-fiction and one of the most important books I have read this year.
About Naoki Higashida
Naoki Higashida was born in Kimitsu, Japan in 1992. He was diagnosed with autism in 1998 and subsequently attended a school for students with special needs, then (by correspondence) Atmark Cosmopolitan High School, graduating in 2011. Having learnt to use a method of communication based on an alphabet grid, Naoki wrote The Reason I Jump when he was thirteen and it was published in Japan in 2007. He has published several books since, from autobiographical accounts about living with autism to fairy tales, poems and illustrated books, and writes a regular blog. Despite his communication challenges, he also gives presentations about life on the autistic spectrum throughout Japan and works to raise awareness about autism. In 2011 he appeared in director Gerry Wurzburg’s documentary on the subject, Wretches & Jabberers.
About David Mitchell
David Mitchell is the author of the novels Ghostwritten, number9dream, Cloud Atlas, Black Swan Green and The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet. He has been shortlisted twice for the Man Booker Prize and won several awards for his writing. KA Yoshida was born in Yamaguchi, Japan, and specialised in English Poetry at Notre Dame Seishin University.