Title: Colin Fischer
Authors: Ashley Edward Miller & Zack Stentz
Release Date: November 1, 2012
I’m an awkward person. I like characters who are awkward and imperfect, who do things without thinking and regret it later, characters who are positive that they are constantly being scrutinized in public. But I also like awkward characters who don’t regret things and who couldn’t care less about what their peers think. Colin Fischer is this character, although not by choice.
Colin Fischer has severe Asperger’s syndrome, an unfortunate but fascinating condition that causes him to have absolutely no idea what the people around him are feeling. His therapist uses index cards to help him connect facial expressions to emotions, and throughout the book, readers see Colin struggling to connect appearances with feelings. Asperger’s also causes Colin to have other unusual behaviors, such as his hatred of the color blue, loud noises, and physical contact with other people. We learn that this school year is his first attending school without an aide. He also carries around a red spiral notebook, in which he documents and categorizes every important (and unimportant) thought, idea, and moment of his life.
Having Asperger’s syndrome takes a toll on Colin’s social abilities, but he is an incredibly intelligent boy. Readers see this through Colin’s first-person journal entries that begin every chapter, as well as through detailed footnotes that provide insight as to what is going on in Colin’s head.
The book is about Colin’s freshman year of high school, and his eagerness to solve the mystery of who put a gun in the birthday cake of his only friend at school. His intellect and unique knowledge make him a prime candidate to solve the mystery, and as he journeys into the world of cruel high school boys, unexpected friendships, and even Southern California gang activity, readers see the difficulties of living with Asperger’s syndrome, and how Colin manages to cope with this condition.
Although many aspects of the book’s plot seemed to me more suitable for younger readers, I find Asperger’s syndrome quite intriguing, and reading a book about a character with Asperger’s was thought-provoking and compelling. I ended up doing some online research about Asperger’s when I finished the book, to get a better insight into Colin’s condition and the different ways in which people with Asperger’s view the world. In this instance, to me, the character was more interesting than the plot, but I don’t at all regret reading the book.
To be honest, I think the “mystery” tag attached to this book might be slightly misleading. This isn’t a suspenseful, edge-of-your-seat mystery novel. The reader isn’t trying to figure it out along with Colin; the reader is more interested in how Colin goes about solving it. I really enjoyed discovering the character of Colin Fischer, and reading about his high school woes that come with being different. He’s the kind of character you want to hug (though, of course, you wouldn’t, because Colin can’t stand physical contact) and defend from the ruthless bullies of high school.
I would certainly recommend this book to young adult readers (possibly on the younger spectrum of ‘young adult’, although, that said, I occasionally enjoy reading books tailored to ‘tweens’). I think it appeals to both a male and female audience, and readers will enjoy Colin’s unique take on life, and will find his quirky personality charming. Colin Fischer will make you stop and think about how people with social disabilities struggle with interactions, and will engender understanding and compassion from readers.
– Katie (:
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