Saturday, August 9, 2008

Al Capone Does My Shirts (Y.A. Challenge #11)

Twelve year old Moose is not pleased when his parents decide to move to Alcatraz, not pleased at all. His parents are trying to send his sister Natalie (who is autistic but the book is set in the 1930s before autism was a diagnosable illness) to a special school and working at Alcatraz is the way they have come up with to pay for it. Between Moose's mother (who has given Natalie a 10th birthday party for the last 6 years), Piper (the irritating daughter of the warden), and Natalie herself (who Moose really loves and takes care of) Moose feels more than a little trapped. That and the fact that he's living on an island prison.

This novel, a Newbery Honor winner by Gennifer Choldenk, made me hurt for Moose. I can understand why his mother would want to do everything she could to help her child with obvious and serious problems, but she seems to do so at the expense of her son. It made me grateful for the better understanding we have today (70 years later) about autism and what can and cannot help those who have it.

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