Peta Lyre’s Rating Normal – Children’s Book Week review
Peta Lyre is far from typical. The world she lives in isn’t designed for the way her mind works, but when she follows her therapist’s rules for ‘normal’ behaviour, she can almost fit in without attracting attention. When a new girl, Sam, starts at school, Peta’s carefully structured routines start to crack.
– Publisher’s description
Exciting update! This book is Shortlisted for the Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year – Older Readers 2021.
Peta Lyre is a self-titled ‘Alphabet Girl’ with diagnoses of ADHD, ASD, SPD, and giftedness. She has spent years learning social skills from a therapist so she can fit it with the expectations and behaviour of other people. This type of conditioning or social training is a common approach to therapy for kids with these diagnoses but it can also create further stress for them, as they find their place in the world.
This book provides an interesting look at the inner thoughts and feelings of a young woman trying to be ‘normal’ and still be herself. Her descriptions of the way she manages her medication and how it affects her are something I haven’t read in a YA novel before. Peta’s voice goes a long way to dispel misconceptions of neurodiversity.
The author, Anna Whateley, wrote this novel from an ‘own voices’ viewpoint – drawing on her experiences growing up with similar diagnoses and thought patterns to Peta.
No therapist teaches you about that. They just want you to know how to look neurotypical. Not to know how to vote or make your world different so you don’t look so wrong in the first place.
What is #ownvoices ?
Basically, this means that an author writing a character from a marginalised group comes from that group themselves. This can be diverse groups such as LGBTQ+, people with disabilities, people with different backgrounds, religious minorities, and more. These voices provide a more diverse perspective. You can read more about own voices here or search the hashtag online.
Want more #ownvoices recommendations?
There are many lists online – Goodreads is a great place to start!
About the author
Anna has a PhD in young adult fiction (literary criticism) and has taught sociology and YA/children’s literature to preservice teachers. She loves to attend writer events, conferences, twitter storms, and book launches, and is also a strong advocate for the neurodivergent community.
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