Whats it like to live in a world where you feel constantly at odds with what happens around you? Odd Girl Out lays it on the line. The subtitle to this book is ‘An autistic woman in a neurotypical world.’ And this book is just that – an analysis of life seen through the eyes of an autistic woman.
I came to this book courtesy of my employer who held a ‘diversity and inclusion’ coffee morning, where we got plied with Danish pastries and got the option to borrow a whole host of literature. It was Odd Girl Out that stood out for me.
Laura James has found out that she is autistic in her mid forties. The diagnosis means that James now needs to reconcile her place in the world. She has always known that something is not quite right, but she’s not entirely sure what to do with this diagnosis and begins by gathering as much information as possible.
James tell her story and that of her relationship with her husband with candidness. Her description of what it is like to live in her head makes for a real page turner of a book. James’s husband doesn’t always understand where she is coming from and Odd Girl Out takes them on a journey of mutual discovery where their fragile relationship comes under some intense scrutiny. As is always the case with memoirs, I felt massively grateful to James for laying her soul bare and allowing the reader into the most personal details of her life.
Ofcourse a huge draw of a book like this is the ability to be able to see inside the mind of someone who thinks differently from you. The interesting thing was that many of the things that James obsesses about are things that have probably crossed all of our minds fleetingly on a Thursday night as we flick channels on the TV. The difference between the neurotypical experience and that of James is her self confessed inability to let things go. Nevertheless it struck me that this resonance with neurotypical thought patterns is probably one of the reasons why autism goes under the radar.
James points out that autism is particularly difficult to spot in women and girls because they have learnt to copy others. The mask they put on to the rest of the world is just too convincing. Odd Girl Out brings out some of the issues that James and others like her face on a daily basis. Issues that the rest of us would not think twice about. This is an eye opening book and one that I would recommend to anyone.
Come back again next week when I will be returning to the fabulous Kristin Hannah and reviewing The Nightingale. See you on Monday for this little treat!