Title: Anybody Here Seen Frenchie?
Author: Leslie Connor
What's it about?
Aurora's best friend has never said a word to her, but that's okay, because she talks enough for both of them. Frenchie's non-verbal and the best best friend Aurora could ever ask for. Lucky for her, their parents are just as close as the two of them. But then, they learn that, for the first time since they met, they will not be in the same class. It'll be weird and how will Frenchie be okay with out her? He doesn't have many other friends and no one else seems to understand him. He has Autism and is pretty set in his ways. Aurora misses Frenchie but she's making new friends and having new experiences.
And then, one day, Frenchie goes missing with no explanation, leaving, first the school, and then the entire town in search for the non-verbal bird loving boy who has wiggled into so many people's hearts.
Favorite Character: There were so many people in this story that I loved and respected for so many reasons. But I'm going to go with Aurora and Frenchie.
Aurora because she's smart, sweet, kind and caring. She's also funny and honest. But my favorite thing about her is that no matter how silent he is or how many times he acts in a way that others may think is "weird", she never lets that get in the way of her really seeing him for who he is and hear what he's saying. She loved him purely and for everything he is without thought about what he wasn't.
Frenchie because he's so smart, and sweet and he just stole my heart.
Favorite Part: My favorite part is less a part and more an aspect. My favorite thing about this book were the relationships between Aurora and Frenchie and the representation.
Least Favorite Part: When Frenchie wonders to the edge of the Quarry. Not only was it sad and heartbreaking, but it was a little to possible in real life.
I have a soft spot in my heart for well portrayed character with Autism. My son has Autism and while my son isn't non-verbal, I've heard parents with children who are fight against assumptions that others make; assumptions that, just because they don't verbally communicate, they have nothing to say. That they don't understand what's going on around them or that they are just not intelligent enough to have thoughts about things. Frenchie is the opposite and the people around him, like Aurora take his form of communication (body language mostly) and treat them no differently then if he used verbal speech. It is obvious, especially through the eyes of Aurora, that Frenchie's lack of speech is not at all evidence of lack of intelligence and I loved that so much because of the stories I've heard from other families about the perceptions others place on their loved one with autism.
I loved that we do get to experience parts of the story through Frenchie's perspective. These are huge parts, as Frenchie is a boy of few words, but those pages reinforce the notion that he is well aware of his surroundings, has feelings and emotions and is very smart which it is sometimes assumed that people with autism lack such characteristics.
And I loved that, while Frenchie does have Autism, both Aurora's family and Frenchie's mother treat him the same as they treat Aurora. There's no difference, just love.
All of this means so much to me, being a part of the Autism community and knowing how those with little experience with autism can misunderstand autism so much, or expect someone with autism to be Rain Man.