Friday, January 19, 2007

Book: Elizabeth Moon's The Speed of Dark

I have been a very slow reader lately. I started Elizabeth Moon's "The Speed of Dark"... well it seems like months ago. Definitely before Christmas. I can't remember. The novel follows the life of Lou Arrendale, a 35 year old autistic man, who works for a large pharmaceutical company.  Lou, along with several other autistics, use their mathematical and pattern recognition skills to do their jobs.

The book is narrated by Lou and everything is seen through Lou's eyes. His world changes when an experimental treatment for autism is developed and he is given the chance to become 'normal.' Lou must decide if he should accept the treatment and risk becoming someone he is not or stay autistic and remain the same person. He must decide if normal is better than autistic. The book provides an interesting perspective on what 'normal' really is. The antagonists are all normal, non-autistics. The wise, thoughtful, and innocent ones are mostly all autistics.

I enjoyed the journey that Lou takes. It is thought provoking and you begin to understand the way autistic people must experience the world around them. The author is the mother of an autistic teenager and I am sure that is how she was able to get inside the head of Lou Arrendale.

The one thing that disappointed me is that there are only 20 pages after Lou makes his decision about the treatment and the end of the book. This twenty pages could easily have been 200. The end left me asking myself if Lou did the right thing. Risking giving away the ending, do you really have to change, conform to normality, discard all the good things that made your life bearable, to be truly happy? I don't know.

My favorite uncle and aunt recommended this book and I am glad I finally got around to reading it.

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