Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

Anything but Typical

Anything but Typical

4.0 85
by Nora Raleigh Baskin

See All Formats & Editions

Jason Blake is an autistic 12-year-old living in a neurotypical world. Most days it's just a matter of time before something goes wrong. But Jason finds a glimmer of understanding when he comes across PhoenixBird, who posts stories to the same online site as he does.

Jason can be himself when he writes and he thinks that PhoneixBird-her name is Rebecca-could be


Jason Blake is an autistic 12-year-old living in a neurotypical world. Most days it's just a matter of time before something goes wrong. But Jason finds a glimmer of understanding when he comes across PhoenixBird, who posts stories to the same online site as he does.

Jason can be himself when he writes and he thinks that PhoneixBird-her name is Rebecca-could be his first real friend. But as desperate as Jason is to met her, he's terrified that if they do meet, Rebecca wil only see his autism and not who Jason really is.
By acclaimed writer Nora Raleigh Baskin, this is the breathtaking depiction of an autistic boy's struggles-and a story for anyone who has ever worried about fitting in.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
*“Baskin’s delineation of an autistic boy’s world is brilliant.”—Kirkus, starred review

* “Luminous....This is an enormously difficult subject, but Baskin, without dramatics or sentimentality, makes it universal.”—Booklist, starred review

“Should readily captivate readers and open eyes.” –Publishers Weekly

"Baskin reveals not only the obstacles that Jason faces, but also his fierce determination to be himself at all costs. Jason is a believable and empathetic character in spite of his idiosyncrasies. Baskin also does a superb job of developing his parents and younger brother as real people with real problems, bravely traversing their lives with a differently abled child without a road map, but with a great deal of love."—School Library Journal

“A children’s book that’s every bit as subtle and smart as the best adult novel.”—nytimes.com

School Library Journal
Gr 4–7—As if adolescence isn't difficult enough by itself, 12-year-old Jason Blake is not a "neurotypical" (NT), he's autistic and interprets the world differently from other children. As a result, kids at school make fun of him and no one seems to understand him, including his family. Writing stories is one of Jason's few escapes, the one place where he can really be himself. After Jason begins a tentative relationship with Rebecca (PhoenixBird) on Storyboard, an online writing forum, he struggles with the fear of meeting her in person. Simultaneously, he narrates his past, giving listeners a glimpse of what life is like growing up as an autistic child. Tom Parks gives a near perfect performance of this eye-opening novel (S & S, 2009) by Nora Raleigh Baskin told from Jason's viewpoint. Always using just the right tone, he liberates the story's apprehension and wit. Poignant and real, the novel's honesty will bring tears to listeners' eyes. Recommended to fans of the Joey Pigza series.—Terry Ann Lawler, Phoenix Public Library, AZ
Kirkus Reviews
People say 12-year-old Jason Blake is weird. He blinks his eyes oddly and flaps his hands, his fingers jerking "like insects stuck on a string." Jason is autistic. He hates art class and PE, where there's too much space and unorganized time, but he feels at home on his computer, writing stories on the Storyboard website. When he meets a fellow writer named Rebecca online and has the chance to meet her in person at a Storyboard conference, he panics. What will happen to their comfortable online relationship when she meets him? Baskin's delineation of an autistic boy's world is brilliant, putting readers into Jason's mind, showing how he sees the world, understands how his parents feel about him, frets about fitting in and yearns to find at least one friend in the world. Readers even get some tips about writing short stories as they observe Jason composing his way to self-acceptance. "This is who I am. This is me," as one of his characters says. (Fiction. 10-14)

Product Details

Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
8.50(w) x 5.76(h) x 0.83(d)
HL640L (what's this?)
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

Read an Excerpt

Anything But Typical

  • Most people like to talk in their own language.

    They strongly prefer it. They so strongly prefer it that when they go to a foreign country they just talk louder, maybe slower, because they think they will be better understood. But more than talking in their own language, people like to hear things in a way they are most comfortable. The way they are used to. The way they can most easily relate to, as if that makes it more real. So I will try to tell this story in that way.

    And I will tell this story in first person.

    I not he. Me not him. Mine not his.

    In a neurotypical way.

    I will try—

    To tell my story in their language, in your language.

    I am Jason Blake.

    And this is what someone would say, if they looked at me but could only see and could only hear in their own language:

    That kid is weird (he’s in SPED, you know). He blinks his eyes, sometimes one at a time. Sometimes both together. They open and close, open and close, letting the light in, shutting it out. The world blinks on and off.

    And he flaps his hands, like when he is excited or just before he is going to say something, or when he is thinking. He does that the most when he’s on the computer or reading a book. When his mind is focused on the words, it separates from his body, his body that almost becomes a burden, a weight.



    Only his fingers don’t stand still while they wait. They flap at the ends of his hands, at the ends of his wrists.

    Like insects stuck on a string, stuck in a net. Like maybe they want to fly away. Maybe he does too.

    In first grade they put a thick, purple rubber band across the bottom bar of his desk chair, so Jason would have something to jiggle with his feet when he was supposed to be sitting still. In second grade Matthew Iverson sent around a note saying, If you think Jason Blake is a retard, sign this, and Matthew got sent to the principal’s office, which only made things worse for Jason.

    In third grade Jason Blake was diagnosed with ASD, autistic spectrum disorder. But his mother will never use that term. She prefers three different letters: NLD, nonverbal learning disorder. Or these letters: PDD-NOS, pervasive developmental disorder– non-specific. When letters are put together, they can mean so much, and they can mean nothing at all.

    From third grade until this year, sixth grade, Jason had a one-on-one aide, who followed him around school all day. She weighed two hundred and three pounds. (Jason asked her once, and she told him.) You couldn’t miss seeing her.

    But the thing people see the most is his silence, because some kinds of silence are actually visible.

    When I write, I can be heard. And known.

    But nobody has to look at me. Nobody has to see me at all.

    School doesn’t always go very well. It is pretty much a matter of time before the first thing of the day will go wrong.

    But today I’ve gotten far. It is already third period. Mrs. Hawthorne is absent and so we are going to the library instead of art class. This is a good sign. You’d think art class would be one of the easiest classes, but it’s not. I mean, it’s not that it’s hard like math, but it’s hard like PE. A lot of space and time that is not organized.

    Anything can go wrong in that kind of space.

    But not in the library. There are computers in the library. And books. And computers. Keyboards and screens and desks that are built inside little compartments so you don’t have to look at the person sitting next to you. And they can’t look at me.

    When we get into the library, somebody is already sitting in my seat, at my computer. At the one I want. Now I can’t breathe. I want to log on to my Storyboard website. I was thinking about it all the way here. I have already had to wait so long. I don’t know.

    “Jason, this one is free,” the lady says. She puts her hands on my shoulders. This lady is a lady I should know, but her face looks like a lot of other faces I don’t know so well, and I group them all together. Her face is pinched, but her eyes are big, round like circles. Her hair doesn’t move, like it’s stuck in a ball. She belongs in the library or the front office or my dentist’s office.

    But she is here now, so I will assume she is the librarian.

    I know from experience that she is trying to help me, but it doesn’t. I can feel her weight on my shoulders like metal cutting my body right off my head. This is not a good thing.

    I also know she wants me to look at her.

    Neurotypicals like it when you look them in the eye. It is supposed to mean you are listening, as if the reverse were true, which it is not: Just because you are not looking at someone does not mean you are not listening. I can listen better when I am not distracted by a person’s face:

    What are their eyes saying?

    Is that a frown or a smile?

    Why are they wrinkling their forehead or lifting their cheeks like that? What does that mean?

    How can you listen to all those words when you have to think about all that stuff?

    But I know I will get in trouble if I don’t look at the lady’s eyes. I can force myself. I turn my head, but I will look at her sideways.

    I know the right words to use.

    Last year Jane, my one-on-one, taught me to say, “I am okay just as I am.”

    I am okay just as I am.

    She told me I had to say something in this sort of situation. She said that people expect certain things. She said that people will misunderstand me if I don’t say something.

    This is one of the many, many things I need to run through in my mind, every time. Also the things my OT, my occupational therapist, has taught me:

    Look people in the eye when you are talking (even if this makes it harder for you to listen).

    Talk, even when you have nothing to say (that’s what NTs do all the time).

    Try to ignore everything else around you (even when those things may be very important).

    If possible put your head and your body back together and try very hard not to shake or flap or twirl or twitch (even if it makes you feel worse to do this).

    Don’t blink.

    Don’t click your teeth. (These are the things people don’t like. These are the things they hear but can’t hear).

    “I am okay just as I am,” I say, and I take a step forward. I want the librarian to take her hands off my shoulders. The weight of her hands is almost unbearable, like lead. Like the lead apron the dentist puts on you when you get an x-ray, a crushing rock while the technician counts to ten. And you can’t move.

    Or they will have to do it all over again.

    Also, I want to stand close, so there will be no confusion that I am next in line. The person at the computer turns around to the sound of my voice. It is a girl. Most girls look the same, and I can’t tell one from the other.

    Long hair. Earrings. Different tone of voice.

    A Girl.

    I don’t know who this girl is, or if she already hates me, but chances are she does.

    The girl doesn’t say anything, so I have to look at her face and figure it out. Her eyes are squinched up, and her lips are pressed so tightly together they almost disappear. I recognize that she is unhappy or even angry, but I don’t know why.

    “You are breathing on me,” she says. “You’re so gross.”

    “Gross” could mean big or refer to a measurement or weight, but in this case it doesn’t. It means she doesn’t like me. She is, in fact, repulsed by me, which is how most girls react. My mom tells me not to worry. My mom tells me I will find a girlfriend one day, just like everyone else. I will find someone who sees how “special” I am. I know no girl will ever like me. No matter what I do, no matter how hard I try.

    But maybe I am wrong.

    I hope so.

    I hope I am wrong and my mother is right. But usually I am right about these things.

    “I was here first, Miss Leno,” the girl says.

    Miss Leno is the librarian’s name.

    “Jason, here,” Miss Leno is saying. “Sit here. You can use this computer.”

    But I can’t use that computer. I don’t want to. I can’t. My breathing is too loud inside my ears. I stiffen my body, solidify my weight, so she can’t move me with her hands. You’d be surprised at how quickly people will try to move you with their hands when they don’t get what they want with their words.

    I wish Jane were here with me right now and then this wouldn’t happen. Words don’t always work.

    “Jason, hold still. There’s no need to get so upset. There are plenty of other computers.”

    Miss Leno is trying to shift my weight off my feet, and she’s trying to pretend she’s not, as if she’s just walking with me, instead of pushing me, which is what she’s doing.

    “Jason, please.” But she doesn’t mean please. There is no please in anything Miss Leno is asking. She is pulling me.

    I feel off balance, like I am going to fall. I need to shift my weight back and forth, back and forth, rock to stabilize myself. I can feel my chance to use my computer getting further and further away from me. There isn’t even enough time left in the period. I might not get to log on at all, even if this girl does get up. A hundred little pieces threaten to come apart.

    “Jason, please, calm down. Calm down.” Miss Leno’s voice sounds like a Xerox machine.

    Sometimes there is nothing to hold me together.

  • Videos

    Meet the Author

    Nora Raleigh Baskin is the ALA Schneider Family Book Award–winning author of Anything But Typical. She was chosen as a Publishers Weekly Flying Start for her novel What Every Girl (Except Me) Knows, and has since written a number of novels for middle graders and teens, including The Truth About My Bat Mitzvah, The Summer Before Boys, and Ruby on the Outside. Nora lives with her family in Connecticut. Visit her at NoraBaskin.com.

    Customer Reviews

    Average Review:

    Post to your social network


    Most Helpful Customer Reviews

    See all customer reviews

    Anything But Typical 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 85 reviews.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is looking for something a bit different from the ordinary. It will make you think, it will make you dream, it will make you believe in all that can be possible.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This is an amazing book. I have a cousin with autisum and it made me respect and understand him better than ever before!
    Samantha Sierakowski More than 1 year ago
    I love this author. She takes the time to research whatever she is writing and turns it into an enjoyable read!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    As having an older brother with autism, tuberuscerlosis, and many other health problems, I thought this book was amazing! If you are intrested in this subject I also reccomend the book, RULES.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    The person who said he has adhd is wrong he has autism and this book was really god and touched my heart!¿
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This book is not only good but it has a meaning that no one could say this any better! Now i understand how the people feel! Like their no buddy...wow! I love this book! Seny from my nook
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    If you want a great book then you are lookig at it. This is a sad but happy. Its heart wrenching. I am sure you will enjoy this book. This book will make you view not only the world and people differently, it will make you view yourself differently. All i can say is i love this book. What about you? LIVE LEARN LOVEc
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I have read this book over 3 times and learn something unique and different each time i read it!(:
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I really liked the book it reminded me of a book callednout of my mind whitch is about an autistic girl.Both stories help non autistics or nuerotypicals in jason's veiw see inside an autistic mind.See that they think about the same things that we do that they are not as dome as they seem and sometimes smarter
    soccerchic7 More than 1 year ago
    This is an amazing Book! I think every one will enjoy it
    Carolyn Witkowski More than 1 year ago
    I loved this book. Read it or you wouldnt have lived life! I highly recommend this to anyone age 9+
    aorzga815 More than 1 year ago
    This book gives readers insight to the struggles and challenges that students with autism deal with on a daily basis. Written from the point of view of Jason, a twelve year old autistic boy, the book does a remarkable job portraying his life. He strives to have normal relationships and friendships, but finds it difficult due to his disorder. The book can be a little bit confusing at times because it is hard to tell the difference between his thoughts and what is actually happening in the book. Jason's only escape from the world is his writing - it's the only thing that calms him down and gives him great joy. The book makes you appreciate the patience and kindness that his mom, dad, and brother have. As a general education teacher, I would recommend this book to other educators. I don't have a lot of experience working with autistic children, but I feel like the book makes you understand this disorder from a new perspective. Overall, a great read with a heartfelt message.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This book gives a wonderful, realistic insight into how a kid in the autism spectrum works from the inside, without being trite or condescending. He wants many of the same things all kids want, but he just operates a bit differently. As an elementary school librarian, I work with a variety of children with many personalities and needs, and this book showed me how sometimes what adults think is the obvious way of helping a child can be exactly what he doesn't need. A must read for educators on all levels. A great pairing with Cynthia Lord's "Rules" for upper elementary or middle school discussion. My fifth grade son loves it and has read it several times. It not only validates any child's feelings that he and his problems are unique, but also gives a window into how everyone has their own inner motivations and compensations to get through their days, which often cause misunderstandings with the parents in their lives. Then ending is somewhat obvious to adults, but the right way to end. The cover art on the hardcover is lovely--the paperback might appeal or put off some kids.
    WriterOfAngels More than 1 year ago
    This book intrigued me by page one. The daily struggled of the main charicter makes me want to cry! I read through this in only three days, I recoment this to anyone who wants a read of all you can want!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Just bad
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    i read this book when i was in middle school and i feel in love with it
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This is my (")
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This book was amazing and i love books like it. Many people said never by this book but really i know that everyone has their own opions but this book is easy to understand and its one of a kind i can see why it was in the running for book of the year. if you like this i recomend the book out of my mind by sharon drapper
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This book is fantastic it dreally tells you how autistic kids are in the prison of thier mind :( but great book! :)