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Book Review: Do I say yes? (Now you say Yes)



Title: Now You Say Yes

By: Bill Harley

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What's it about?

Mari is 15 years old. She survived the foster care system long enough to be adopted by her mom, Stef and her husband. But after, nine years ago, Stef and her husband have a baby who turns out to have high functioning autism, Stef's husband walks out and Mari ceases to consider him their dad.


Now, Mari is facing another life changing event. Stef has died, her boyfriend lacks understanding in Stef's 15 year old daughter and 9 year old son with autism and wants to take responsibility of them even less. So, in an attempt to avoid another three years in the system and to protect her brother from being in a system that she fears he will be unable to navigate, Mari steals her mom's car, packs up her and her brother and, together, the two embark on a cross country journey in hopes of finding a home where the two of them can find their way through the rest of their childhood.


Favorites:


Favorite Character: Mari is my favorite. I find that I like Mari because she's tough, strong and conflicted. She's fifteen. Life is hard, especially hers. But through all of the internal conflict and big struggles that anyone would struggle with, she keeps going forward and does everything in her power to do what is right. Yes, she doesn't always go about it in the right way, but she's scared, she has trust issues, and she feels lost. But, in the end, she's doing what she thinks she needs to in order to do what's right for her and her brother Connor. Mari, as Donkey would say, is like an onion. She's got layers. There's the superficial side of her and then this deeper, more real side of her that, sometimes, contradicts the superficial side.


!!!!WARNING!!! SPOILERS!!! I also really loved Trish. She comes late into the game but I feel like she refused to stick with the superficial and saw to the truth...or at least closer then most did, and she found away to be supportive and address the reality she saw without belittling or infringing.


Least Favorite Character: Dennis. Maybe he was trying to figure out how to cope with his own loss and such. Maybe he was in shock. Maybe he just wasn't ready but the way he treats and talks about the kids is ignorant and cold. I realize that we don't get to know much about him and his story, but I can't help but to be irritated with him. I want to yell at him and, maybe, help him remove his head from his...backside.


Favorite Part: Toward the end. There's a point where Mari kind of unwinds. She's able to breath again. I think that's my favorite part.


Least Favorite Part: My least favorite "part" is slightly reoccurring. I'm sure I'll address this more later. But it was when Mari talked about or "remembered" when things changed with Connor and they started seeing signs that he had Autism.


Other Thoughts:

I'm going to start this off with some honesty. My son has high functioning Autism and I love finding good books that bring awareness to Autism in an honest way. Honest, not all rainbows and unicorns, but honest. It's hard to live with and love someone on the spectrum, but it's not horrible, either. Just...different then one might have imagined when they learned they were pregnant. Different then what people consider normal but, let's be real. Who want's to be normal, anyway?


With that being said, I enjoyed the story of "Now you say Yes." I liked that there was more representation of people with Autism, but it wasn't perfect. There were parts about it that I didn't love, like when Mari talks about how they had this little, almost perfect boy that they loved and adored and then, one day, he was gone and they ended up autistic Connor in the first boy's shell (that's not how they describe it, by the way, but it's kind of how it felt while reading it). Okay, I get it. That wasn't my experience and I really dislike when people talk about it like that. I don't like the way it sounds, almost like the person they now have is less than. BUT, I understand why it's in the book. I don't like it but I it is a thing that happens in the Autism community. I've heard parents talk about their experience like that. And, while I don't like that means of explaining, I understand that that may be how it feels to those people and it's hard. I'm glad that these people get a voice and can feel heard.


The other thing may sound silly, but they use the word "tantrum" in place of "meltdown". There's a difference. It may seem small but there is a big difference, one being that meltdowns are a chaotic, uncontrollable explosion of emotion. My son describes it as and almost out of body experience. It's like he's watching this little crazy goblin running amuck, breaking things, screaming, throwing things, hurting people and while he knows that what is happening is not okay, illogical and will later be regretted, he can't do anything to stop it until it just.... dissipates. Tantrums are controlled, calculated and with a purpose. I've lived through both and I, personally, feel like the difference is significant and I wish it were better understood.


With that being said, th