The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism
By Naoki Higashida; Translated by KA Yoshida and David Mitchell
4 out of 5 stars
April is just around the corner, which means World Autism Awareness Day (April 2) and National Autism Awareness Month is nearly here. These are special to me as my 17-year-old son is on the spectrum (Asperger’s). Over the years, I’ve read anything I could get my hands on, from Temple Grandin’s story to the history of autism, trying to understand my son a bit more, but finding the answers to my questions vague or elusive.
I first heard about The Reason I Jump through a Goodreads group and I was instantly intrigued. A 13-year-old autistic boy answers questions about his condition, with inquiries covering obsessions, emotions, extreme reactions to certain stimuli, etc. I know my own frustrations over the years, especially when my son was young and nonverbal, trying to figure out why he would suddenly melt down over a toy being moved or his obsessions and fixations on seemingly random things. While reading this book, I had several “A ha!” moments when Higashida’s answers would resonate with these past experiences. While the author does not speak for all people with autism, he does provide a glimpse into the thought processes and behaviors often seen in those on the spectrum.
This book is not without controversy. Many have claimed that this nonverbal young teen could not have written it, that the translators embellished, even fabricated, the entire book to make a sale or to play on readers’ emotions (think A Million Little Pieces). Do I believe it was embellished? Yes, especially after reading some of the author’s later works written in his early 20s. The main translator is a poetry major, and it truly shows in some of the entries, while others are more “practical” without the flowery embellishments. But do I believe the translators made up the heart of the answers? No. Translating any written article from one language to another is a difficult task as some words and phrases just don’t exist in every language. And since I now understand my son and his thought process a little bit more than I did when he was younger, I found many of Higashida’s answers to be authentic and heartfelt.
Overall, I think this is a book that should be read by anyone who is trying to understand their loved one’s autism. While it’s not a definitive “guide” it does provide thoughtful and meaningful insight to a condition that, even today, doctors and scientists cannot begin to fully explain. Highly recommend.
Stay safe and Happy Reading!
Do i think writing was embellished upon in translation yes esp after reading some of his recent writing
does help understand some things, should not be blanketed for all on spectrum