Because of her Asperger’s syndrome, Kiara has always had trouble making friends. This has gotten worse since she was booted from her school for hitting another girl over the head with her lunch tray. When Chad and his little brother move in across the street, Kiara sees it as a chance to make a real friend. Then she learns his secret, and she’s even more determined to make their friendship blossom. But things are more complicated than Kiara realizes, and she’s going to do a lot of growing up as a result.
There’s a lot to unpack in Miller-Lachmann’s novel about a lonely eighth-grade girl desperately searching for friends–and her own superpower. Kiara’s voice is authentic and clear, and her confusion at the world around her rings very true. She is surrounded by a loving, if sometimes misguided family, but she longs for relationships outside of the familial fold.
Readers learn early on that Chad is fairly deceitful, but when they realize what kind of hell he’s dealing with at home, it becomes much more understandable. The push-and-pull between Kiara and Chad feels realistic, if at times a little frustrating. More than anything, readers will want everything to turn out okay for these young characters.
Kiara’s biggest issue with her Asperger’s is a propensity to melt down in a monumental way when she doesn’t like how things are going, and this could wear on some readers. Often, these outbursts seem like tantrums from a spoiled child instead of the intended effects of Asperger’s, and this will make her harder to like for some readers. Even so, her voice is so real, her narrative so compelling, that this one is hard to put down.
A memorable and enlightening read about a girl with Asperger’s. This could work for middle grade readers or teens. Recommended.
Rogue by Lyn Miller-Lachmann. Nancy Paulsen Books: 2013. Library copy read for 2013 Cybils.