Becoming Unique by James Charles

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Goooooood Morning readers, it’s a Thursday so the weekend is nearly upon us which is always a lovely thing. I love a really lazy weekend just reading and writing. Blogging can be incredibly therapeutic and writing and just getting all things out can lift a weight from your shoulders. On My Little Book Blog I get a lot of really interesting review requests and this one really struck a chord. This blog over the past two years has become a way of my sharing people stories – happy or sad, heart-breaking or joyful and today’s is extra special. I really hope you’ll stay for the review.

Becoming Unique looks at someone only made aware of being possibly Autistic in late adulthood. Living a life of unknown Autism meant struggling with bullying and despair while growing up in Ireland, as well as struggling academically at school. Like many young people in the 1980s James left Ireland to seek employment and new life in England.

Over the years James experienced struggles and misunderstandings in different workplaces, as well as struggles in relationships and with his Irish identity. James struggled with his faith but finding his faith again was a big spiritual awakening. Over many years, supportive friends, family and work colleagues helped James believe in himself and achieve a worthwhile career. Becoming Unique looks at the many misunderstood struggles of Autism, but also shows “Autism can be wonderful

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As the blurb suggests the book plot follows the life of someone coming to terms with their autism; namely the wonderful James. Throughout we learn about James and his autism and the struggles that he deals with throughout his life alongside the people that he comes into contact with. We learn that certain aspects of autism cause different emotions that during his school years were heavily misinterpreted and the incidents lead to caning and upset. Following this we see James grow and strive to make a place for himself; the book documents how he does this and the ways he finds to cope in the world. Throughout the book we learn more about James and the struggles that for many of us wouldn’t come to mind. We follow him from school through his life, his love of football and his adoration of writing.

Being someone who knows very little about autism and the traits and characteristics that are associated, I found I learnt so much and really got an insight into the struggles. From the first few chapters I was really hoping that James would succeed in finding his way with words and it is really lovely to say that I hugely enjoyed the book. The book is very thoughtful in the way that the author explains different parts of his life, finding his identity, university, and marrying Helen but throughout it feels very positive and very self-contained. It’s not angry but it’s informative and for someone that knew very little before reading this book I feel I have learnt so much about the lack of understanding as to autism and how we can change that whilst also offering support to those that have autism.

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In terms of writing style it does follow chronologically to a point but does whizz in and out with other stories, tit-bits and added comments. However throughout there is a definite feeling of structure and order which I thought really helped to cement the reader into the book in terms of staying engaged. It is very factually based, the writing is what I would describe as tightly written – there are next to no descriptions but this is something that makes the book even more special. It is James, and James’s way of communicating and it allows us to really experience the traits that are communicated through words and then shown through the writing style. It’s not one I experience too often but I thought it worked here perfectly. It feels at times that the author is getting things out, much like a healing process and it is wonderful to be allowed to share that journey.

This isn’t a book I would normally read but I found it very enjoyable; I will say it’s not for everyone and I think you definitely have to be in the mood for a book like this. I did find it took me a little while to read because there is a lot of information conveyed; a lot of dates and information so it’s not a lazy read, it’s something you have to concentrate with. However I thought the message was beautiful, the idea behind it even more so and I’m very happy to have the chance to read it.

Linnnnnks

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