In the name of complete transparency, I’ll tell y’all that I struggled with this one at first. Not because it’s not well-written. It is. But because, as a bookseller, it’s important to me that marginalized populations not only get their stories told, but that the telling is authentic (and in their own voices, typically).
And I struggled with all that I don’t know about learning differences & differently abled populations.
This book is about Rosie, a 16 (and 10 month) year old living in London who has Down syndrome. And Rosie, well, she loves Jack.
Through the whole first two chapters, all I could think after every sentence was: “Does this feel authentic? Is the author representing folks with Down syndrome in a way that feels true and that honors their varied experiences?”
And then I just had to simmer down and read.
Because I fell in love with Rosie. She’s certainly not a one-dimensional character. She’s got an internal dialog going that charmed me completely–a mix of both innocence and experience that made me slow my reading down so I could enjoy her descriptions & perspectives on people. And so I could laugh with her when she got confused by figurative language, or worry when she was befuddled by a situation, or ache for her when her self-talk got negative & mean.
Rosie is all kinds of hellbent on being independent–and she sets off on a solo trek to find her boyfriend (who suffered a traumatic brain injury at birth & deals with frequent outbursts of rage), who has gotten himself in trouble and been shipped off to another town for residential therapy.
I don’t want to tell you more, really, because everyone hates spoilers. But there were several points in the book where I was on the edge of my seat, bargaining with the author (in my head, of course) for a specific outcome. I was that invested. And I cried at the end. So there’s that.
Told you, this book got me.
Rosie Loves Jack invests a lot in exploring and celebrating the potential of each person. And–ultimately–champions the idea that we are all more similar that we might imagine. I loved it for that. And for offering representation to a marginalized population. Because representation matters. And so do empathy & understanding.
I am anxiously awaiting the response from differently-abled populations to this book. If you run across any thought-provoking commentary, please drop it in the comments.