This powerful story is told from the viewpoint of ten-year-old Frank who has a five-year-old autistic brother, Max. It’s raw, painful and heart-breaking with an ending that I found heart-warmingly uplifting.
The viewpoint, and language used, reads authentically like that of a young boy, a young boy who is hurting and finding it hard to find his place. There is a raw honesty in how Frank portrays his feelings about his brother, together with his feelings of shame and guilt about those feelings. This really made me sympathise with him, even when I found what he was saying difficult reading.
When Max melts he’s the hardest thing I the world and you think he’s going to explode his bones from his body … He is fury and he’s lost himself and everyone and everything and everywhere.
The story starts with a countdown to Max’s first day at school. He really struggles with what many others take for granted: communication, sensory processing, and new experiences, like trying on new shoes … he melts and melts and melts. This is a family trying their best, adapting, and celebrating successes, like when Max uses a card to express his first word.
We are her world and her universe and her space and her stars and her sky and her galaxy and her cosmos too.
The boys’ mother is a truly inspirational character, who used to paint the universe and now sees her family as her whole cosmos. She is the glue that holds the family together and works tirelessly to support Max, and tries so hard to give time to Frank. When tragedy strikes the family, Frank must work to find a new space for him and Max … to bring their universe closer than it has ever been …
Whilst my heart bled for Max as he had his meltdowns, I was also inspired by his successes, supported by some wonderful people. I celebrated his successes alongside them.
I feel that this story is really about Frank, who needs to find his space within his family when sometimes he feels pushed out by his younger brother. The honesty with which Frank expresses his views, the decisions and choices he makes and his battle to accept his younger brother makes the ending of this story all the more heart-warming.
This is a very emotional, but ultimately, inspiring story which I would recommend to children of 10+.
Thank you to NetGalley and Bloomsbury for an e-ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.