Nathaniel Clark is NOT a genius. That’s according to some sources. Don’t get me wrong, he’s smart all right. Brilliant, in fact. Nathaniel has perfect SAT scores and an off the chart IQ. But to be a “genius” you have to achieve something extraordinary, make a contribution to the world. And just being smart doesn’t cut it. Nate makes it his goal to be admitted to the Aldous Institute, certified a genius.
But Nate isn’t your average fourteen-year-old. You see, he has Asperger’s Syndrome. That’s on the spectrum of Austism. Aspies, as Nate’s community refers to themselves, are very intelligent. The social part of life is where he has trouble. Nate doesn’t always pick up on the little details, like if someone is tapping their foot impatiently they might not want to hear all about algebraic equations. That’s what “mindblind” means. It’s the absence of that indicator most of us takes for granted. Aspies often have difficulty predicting what others want, or need, or are really meaning when they are in social situations. Nathaniel tries to make up for this by really paying attention and looking for cues and reminders when dealing with “normal” people.
Other than his “mindblindness”, Nathaniel has issues just like anyone else. His parents are divorced and his father is less than supportive of his needs. Let’s face it, his dad is a real jerk. Nate may have trouble socially, but he does have friends. Jessa has been his pal for years, but as he grows older, he begins to think of her as more than a friend. Out of his normal comfort zone, Nate and his friends form a band. Nate finds his talents stretch beyond mathematics to song writing. This could be the something big he’s been waiting for.
Mindblind gives us a look into the mind and life of Nathaniel, a boy with Asperger’s syndrome. He still has to navigate the dangerous waters of teen life. Parents, parties, and girls are still on the agenda. Nate just thinks a little differently than most. Yes, there have been many novels with Aspie protagonists lately. Just as no two people are the same, Nathaniel Clark is an individual. For some other Aspie tales check out Livvie Owen Lived Here and The Half-Life of Planets.