Growing up in the shadow of a famous mother, Clara has never felt good about her body. Now, at sixteen, she has an unhealthy obsession with healthy eating. After a social media disaster, she decides to escape for the summer to Paris to stay with her estranged dad and her six-year-old brother, Alastair, who is on the autism spectrum. Charged with his care, Clara and Alastair set out to explore the city. Paris teaches Clara about first love and gives her a new love of food. And Alastair teaches Clara about patience, trust and the beauty of loving without judgment.
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On The Spectrum
What worked: I really loved the Parisian setting and the lush descriptions of food. The scenes where Clara is helping in a Parisian bakery use most of the senses so readers actually feel they're right there. And omg, I so want some un chocolat chaud!
There's so many different themes going on throughout this novel. We also find out that Clara has an eating disorder. I never heard of 'orthorexia' which is the obsession of food to the point of starving yourself. Clara's famous ballerina mother doesn't help at the beginning with her own struggles to keep skinny. I liked the glimpses readers get seeing the family dynamics that led to Clara's eating disorder.
Once Clara is in Paris, we are introduced to her six-year-old half-brother Alastair who has high functioning autism and is on the 'spectrum'. Kuddos to the author for showing this in Paris. As a mother of a teen who is also on the spectrum, I hate so much all the recent books that say how Parisian children don't have this issue, which is totally false. Alastair does show some common symptoms of HFA like hyper focusing on some things, over sensitivity to sounds, smells, foods, to speaking out without a filter. At times though he felt almost older than six. There are different levels in the spectrum and I was glad the author didn't resort to the stereotypical HFA character.
The summer romance with Michel felt at times almost too fast. I did like how he brings up the racism that he encounters. I also liked how he is with Alastair. Saying that though I felt Michel was a tad bit 'preachy' especially in regards to Clara's eating disorder.
Coming of age story where teen goes to Paris to help her younger autistic brother while struggling with her own eating disorder issues. Mostly though this is a story about a girl and her younger half-brother and the power of love that helps them have the strength to overcome their problems.
2. Interesting insight into orthorexia-an eating disorder
3. Lush descriptions of Parisian food
4. Kuddos for showing a child with high functioning autism without some of the usual stereotypes.