Book Review: The White Bicycle
The White Bicycle by Beverley Brenna. October 2012. 9780889954830. Gr. 9-12.
The White Bicycle opens with a dream. Taylor is walking through the woods. Her mother is calling after her, but Taylor continues walking with her bicycle on the difficult path without looking back. It is just a dream, but Taylor notes,
“In life it is your dreams that take you forward, and your dreams that make you human.”
Taylor dreams of being independent. She is nineteen years old, and she feels like it is time for her to stop relying on her mother so much. She was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome when she was eleven, which helped her to understand why some things were difficult for her, but author Beverley Brenna draws on her experience working with people who have Asperger’s to create an intimate story that shares her view that Asperger’s means “seeing the world in a different way, not in a defective way.” She writes more about Asperger’s and her novels in an interview at the end of the book. The result is an introspective, occasionally philosophical, coming-of-age novel about an unusual protagonist that will resonate with a wide variety of readers, whether they are familiar with Asperger’s or not.
Taylor’s first person narration takes readers back to her earliest memories, through her parents divorce, and off to the French countryside for a summer job. Her story began in Wild Orchid, which SLJ compared to The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, and turned into a trilogy that followed Taylor’s push to move past her fears in new ways as she grows up. The White Bicycle stands alone as the conclusion of the trilogy, and readers who discover her story will be richly rewarded.
For more books that explore Asperger’s or Autism, see my post about Autism Awareness Month from 2011.