Sunday, June 05, 2011

Book Review: The Reinvention of Edison Thomas by Jacqueline Houtman

Book: The Reinvention of Edison Thomas
Author: Jacqueline Houtman
Published: 2010
Source: Local Library

Edison Thomas knows all sorts of things, like the Latin name for his pet rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus), how many grams there are in a pound (453.59237), and the hardest substance in the human body (tooth enamel). What he doesn't know is how people work. For instance, why does Mitch, who has been his friend since childhood, always say strange things and laugh when he's around? What is the meaning behind the ketchup packets that are suddenly turning up in all his things? (They're certainly not his.) And what does it mean that new people, like geeky Justin, science-fiction fan Terry, and musician Kip, are suddenly talking to him?

As he struggles to create an invention that will solve the problem of a dangerous intersection near the school, Eddy finds himself reassessing the nature of friendship. Of the two, the second is the far thornier problem.

Time: 0:57:14
Why I Wanted to Read It: Duuude! Science!

I have a great affection for scientific kids in fiction, such as Calpurnia Tate and Phineas L. McGuire. They approach the world in a logical and orderly fashion. Of course, very often the narrative conflict comes from the refusal of people to act in a logical and orderly manner, and that's certainly the case with Eddy. I loved seeing him slowly recognize the unhealthy nature of his relationship with Mitch, and start to build on better ones with new people who appreciate him as he is and overlook or gently correct his quirks.

While never explicitly stated in the text, Eddy does seem to have Asperger's or some other form of high-functioning autism. He's terribly sensitive to sudden noises, tends to fixate on random facts, and goes to specialized counseling sessions. But neurotypical kids will recognize his quagmires, even if his methods for dealing with them would differ from their own.

I would have liked to see a stronger comeuppance for the poisonous Mitch, but otherwise, I won't hesitate in recommending this book for anyone who wants a unique and interesting book about friendship, science, and the intersection of the two.


Jone said...

This is on my tbr list. Sounds interesting. Keep going on 48 hours of reading!

Bibliovore said...

So worth it, Jone! I can't wait for Houtman's next.