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Are You Seeing Me? by Darren Groth

Are You Seeing Me?

by Darren Groth

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Very enjoyable YA book that tells the story of twin teenage Australians that visit North America to find their mom shortly after the passing of their father. One of the twins, Perry, has autism, and his sister,Justine, is his care taker. The story switches perspectives in telling the story from accounts of both main characters. The reader gains backstory from journal entries written by their father. The story is well-paced, funny, and flowing. The author at one point skips over detailing a difficult point in the story by jumping narrators and the event has already occurred, which I think was a little weak, but the remaining story more than makes up for it. Would highly recommend to teen readers. Warning: kind of a tear jerker in parts. ( )
  rdwhitenack | Jun 15, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This is a story about nineteen year old twins - brother and sister - who a year after losing their father from cancer set out from Australia on a trip to British Columbia and Seattle. Justine, the sister, is the sole caregiver for her brother, Perry, who has a neurological condition that causes him to be prone to what she describes as 'inappropriate behaviours'. She has ended up as the caregiver because their mother left them when they were four years old.

The trip is to be one last journey together before Perry moves into assisted living back home in Australia. The story is told in turn by each of the twins, which made it more interesting than a straight story told from one person's point of view. It was interesting to see things through both Perry and Justine's eyes. There were some really funny moments, along with some sadder ones, plus the story took some unexpected turns along the way. The author is an Australian, married to a Canadian, with twin children, who moved from Australia to Canada. He seems to have written many of his own experiences into the book, which made it a very believable story, as well as very detailed in the places the characters visited.

This is one I'd recommend, especially for teens. It touches on many different issues that people face when moving from adolescence into adulthood. I'm glad I was given the opportunity to read it. ( )
  wcs53 | Jun 7, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
“You are responsible for the actions of your hands and the words from your mouth and the feelings in your heart. Dad used to tell me: If you go through life finding fault in others, you’ll end up in a world of one. He said we need the people around us—warts and all—and I understand this much better now that I’m older.”

Perry “Pez” has a mental condition. The book never comes out and states what exactly he’s diagnosed with (except for the back blurb), but from the way the character was portrayed it was clear that he has some form of autism. The cover points out two of Pez’s three main interests: earthquakes, and sea monsters, with the third missing element being Jackie Chan movies.

His interests are a vital part of the story. He constantly compares his sister’s emotions to tremors and fragments of the earth, sees a little of himself in the misunderstood sea monsters, and tries to find his own courage in his hero. The book is sectioned off and allows the reader to see Pez’s point-of-view, which was my favorite parts of the book. You really never know when you’re reading something that is a part of his imagination or something that is really happening.

Readers that are not familiar with Pez’s condition might not understand the ticks, which I think will add to the story since people finding it hard to interact with him plays a major part in the plot.

Justine “Just Jeans” is a strong and pure female main character that never sees her brother as a burden, but just as her brother and is more annoyed with the people who see Pez as anything but. Throughout the plot she is struggling with her brother’s decision to leave her care and join a community for the disabled, meeting her mother for the first time in over a decade, and her boyfriends constant worry for the two of them.

The interactions between the siblings are the best parts of the book. Simple everyday touches described in such detail brought the characters to life, such as the twins always holding hands with only three fingers.

But the book isn’t just about the sibling bond between Justine and Perry. Their mother left when they were four and the road trip planned by Justine is her final chance to be in their lives. She’s a bit of a mix between new age and hippie.

Even if he’s not officially in the book, the reader does get glimpses of what kind of father the twins had through a journal he kept for Justine since she was born. Pages of the journal are placed into the book to give windows into their past, showing both the twins growing up and giving a little history of their mother and father.

Are You Seeing Me? is a heartwarming, and heartbreaking, novel about family bonds and how a disability doesn’t make a person any less of a human. ( )
  ReadingBifrost | May 3, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
If you enjoyed The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time or House Rules you will love this book. Told from the points of view of Perry and his sister and caretaker Justine, the book focuses on the strong bond between siblings whose mother abandoned them as children and whose father recently died. I don't want to talk too much about the story. It is basically about relationships and how we assume things about the other person that may or may not be true.

Both the major characters are engaging, complex, and selfless. I read this book in one night as I could not put it down. I loved both Justine and Perry. Both have big hearts, protective natures, a sense of humor, and courage.

We are never exactly told that Perry has autism but Justine repeats a speech that sums up his challenging life in a single paragraph, "My brother has a brain condition that causes him to feel anxious or different places and circumstances. He has trouble with people – mixing with them and communicating with them – and it sometimes results in inappropriate behaviors. I appreciate your understanding and patience." It sounds so simple, but it is incredibly complex. Perry struggles with all his strength to behave appropriately and to be a good brother in spite of his brain condition.

When Justine takes Perry all the way from Australia to Canada, her brother must cope with sensory overload, the vastly unfamiliar, and breaks in his routine. Her reason for doing this opens a whole new Pandora's box.

This is a story about sibling love, a broken family, redemption, sacrifice, and devotion. This book was a well deserving Governor General Award Finalist. A beautiful book that will seize your emotions and tug at your heart. I highly recommend it for all ages. ( )
  Bonnie_Ferrante | Apr 12, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
"I'm a single dad and I got twin kids, I said. One who's seventeen going on thirty, one who's seventeen going on ten."
That. That was the line that hit me.

This story was beautiful, but in that fuzzy, cozy kind of way, with a sprinkle of heartbreak thrown in. Are You Seeing Me? is about twins, Justine and Perry. Perry's got a brain condition that results in what people call "inappropriate behaviors", and when their father passes away, Justine becomes his main caretaker. But then Perry is accepted at an assisted-living residence, and the two of them decide to go away on a road trip, before the goodbye. But for the twenty-year-old girl who wants to give her mother a second chance and her twin brother, who loves earthquakes, Jackie Chan, and Ogopogo, the Canadian lake monster, the world is going to continue being a little shaky.

The plot was very calm, I'd say. A lot of the progression happened emotionally, which really is the most important part. Although there was nothing really surprising, it was kind of like a cozy little adventure.

The book is also written in dual perspectives (Justine and Perry) that switched in chunks, but their voices were each so unique that I had no trouble differentiating between who was who. I especially loved reading Perry's voice because it helped me understand what it would be like inside the mind of someone with a mental disability. I loved the abstract writing style, and though it made the climax scene a little confusing, I understood the reasoning behind it and a reread of the scene really cleared things up and added to the story's realism.

The writing style was definitely a very strong part of this book. There were some journals written by the dad that were scattered throughout the book, and I also really enjoyed the extra depth they brought to the story.

Overall, this book was definitely a treasure, and I'm so glad I had the opportunity to read such an eye-opening story. ( )
  CatherineHsu | Apr 10, 2017 |
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We are all dependent on one another, every soul of us on earth -- George Bernard Shaw
For W, for J and especially for C
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Perry is standing on the far side of the metal detector, feet planted on the red stripe.
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