Cover Image: A Different Kind of Normal

A Different Kind of Normal

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Member Reviews

This book was so much fun. My son loved going through it and it was such a fun way to show that fitting in a box or being embarrassed about being different was not needed. That we can be neurodivergent and be quirky and loved for who we are. We really enjoyed it and need more neuodivergent representation.

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Not exactly a memoir but not a straightforward informative text either. Maybe closer to a personal essay? It's mostly just Balfe reflecting on what it looks like in her particular case to be an adult with autism. So the audience is probably a fairly narrow one.

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A must-have first hand experience of a later diagnosed Autistic woman. So many books about Autistic people are written by family members or others, and so many focus on boys. This book can help kids better understand Autistic folks and better understand themselves, whether they are diagnosed as Autistic or not. The book is easy to read, features great images, and is very inclusive in language. It specifies many times that gender is a spectrum and that even though some Autistic traits might be more prevalent in girls or boys, anyone who is Autistic can identify with these traits. This is a first purchase, and should be read by kids & adults!

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I really like how this book includes perspective from a later diagnosed adult with autism. I also like the way the disconnect between the world is described. It's not a book that relies on tired tropes and stereotypes-which makes it a positive outlier!

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The world needs more books like this! Thank you, Abigail Balfe, for sharing your story in such an engaging way. I always tell parents with newly diagnosed children to find the #actuallyautistic community on social media. The best way to understand your child is by listening to the perspectives and experiences shared by autistic individuals.

Balfe explains the challenges of sensory sensitivities, communication, forming friendships, puberty and more by sharing her own experiences growing up. But even when discussing difficulties, she remains lighthearted and lets autistic kids and their families know that it's ok to be different. With charming illustrations, humor, and simple definitions, A Different Kind of Normal is a quick and easy read.

I highly recommend this book for autistic kids and their families. Psychologists who test and work with kids should have copies in their lobbies. Parents should give copies to their childrens' teachers. I may purchase a few copies just to leave in the Little Free Libraries around my neighborhood. There are so many damaging stereotypes and misconceptions about autism, and A Different Kind of Normal can help society become much more accomodating and accepting of autistic children and adults.

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As someone who is not autistic, this was an excellent book for me to read so I can learn how to be a better friend, advocate, and helper to those in my life that ARE autistic. I can also say that if you or someone you know, love, or even remotely care about has just gotten an autistic diagnosis, or you've just met them and they tell you that they are autistic, you need to IMMEDIATELY get this book and read it. And then read it again. This book will absolutely be a guide for those who don't know how to explain what is going on with them and for those who want to be a good friend or helper. I cannot recommend this book enough. It truly opened my eyes to MANY things [I had NO idea that someone could be diagnosed with autism so late in life; the author was in her 30's!!], and I can only hope, going forward, that I can be a better friend to those around me that are on the spectrum.

I found myself agreeing with many things that the author deals with [I am an extreme introvert and do not like crowds, small talk, or a lot of smells/scents, and I am often made fun of for the things I like {re: nonfiction books}], those scenes in the book had me shaking my head yes yes yes over and over. It is always a lovely thing to find that you have something in common with the book you are reading [or in this case, the author]. It helped me understand her even more and reminded me that everyone has something and we all just need to be kinder to each other.

This book is filled with lists [I LOVE lists], tons of important information [much I didn't know], fun and quirky illustrations [which I LOVED as they were fun and entertaining] and a fantastic glossary of definitions at the end of the book that I found to be very, very, helpful. The author is brutally honest about the things she has struggled with, how difficult school was and how sometimes, life now is very hard. She is also very honest about what she is working on and the things that have worked and not worked for her. She is also quick to remind everyone that what works [or not] for her may not for others and that is TOTALLY okay; everyone just needs to find their own "different kind of normal".

Thank you to NetGalley, Abigail Balfe, and Random House Children's/Crown Books for Young Readers for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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Abigail Balfe is unique. After years of being different. Feeling different. And acting different. The diagnosis of autism clicked a lot of things into place for her. In this beautifully written and illustrated, memoir, targeted towards a younger audience, Abi recounts dozens of her experiences from youth on up, with her own illustrations that further describe how she herself lives with this diagnosis.

Being different is perfectly fine. Uniqueness is indeed a gift. Abi shares her gift with readers of her debut novel. Illustrations, footnotes, and personal experiences all work together to create a lovely story that anybody reading will find both beneficial and enjoyable.

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A Different Kind of Normal is a good reference for future special ed teachers. As someone who has spent many years working with autistic youth, I have to say that the most important thing about working with students on the spectrum is to not jump into conclusions since everyone is different. This memoir present one reality and perspective. It is quite educational and authentic. Nonetheless, a spectrum has a wide range of characteristics.

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What an intriguing, honest and genuine look into the autistic world!
This memoir written and illustrated by Abigail Balfe provides insight into the challenges and unique perspectives of growing up autistic. I found this book beyond informative and really interesting with the creative illustrations throughout, providing a clear point of view of the speed bumps people with ASD work through each and every day.

As a parent of a neurodivergent child, this book gave me hope and joy to see how my child can work through the “normal” and be successful in his own way.

I highly recommend this book for teachers, parents of neurodivergent children and young readers with ASD or believe that they may be on the spectrum. The illustrations throughout are simple and very effective in conveying the message of this book.

Bravo Abigail – what a wonderful book for all!!

Grateful to have received a digital copy of this book from NetGalley & Random House Children's, Crown Books for Young Readers

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Per the author, on the cover, this is "my real-life COMPLETELY true story about being UNIQUE." It is 100% that. Abigail Balfe wasn't diagnosed with autism until she was a young adult, so she went through life not understanding why she felt different. I really appreciated this as my son is currently on a waitlist to see if he is on the spectrum and so much of this really struck me as the "oh, he does do that!" He has already been diagnosed with ADHD, and the symptoms can overlap but this book is so detailed that you can really differentiate between the two. I don't think this is the kind of book that I would simply sit down and read to my son. It's long. While it is for young readers, it is a longer book and has a huge amount of information. But if your child has autism and comes home after getting bullied, there's a section for that. If your child is confused as to why they hate loud noises and others don't, there's a section for that. Does your child infodump? Totally normal. If you suspect you might be autistic? This is a good book to read.. It's really for everyone.

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Thanks to Netgalley for the E-arc of this wonderful book!

I have been so thrilled to see the rise of memoirs/autobiographies written for the middle grade audience, and this title is an exciting and necessary addition. I love that this title is aimed at everyone, that it celebrates neurodiversity while still advocating for accessibility. The illustrations and use of text boxes helped make the reading fly by and will broaden its reach for my readers as well. Only a couple of paragraphs here or there seemed a little out of place for the middle grade audience, a little too dense, but overall, this will make an excellent addition to my library's collection. I look forward to featuring it on our disability pride display next year!

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I loved this book. It's cute and has a good message. I read this to my son and strongly feel that teachers should all have a copy of this. Bullying is such an issue these days. Highly recommend,

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I thought this would be a cute picture book but it is so much more than that. The graphic chapter book has an amazing message about acceptance and not conforming to the worlds standards of “normal”. I will be using this book with my middle school students during small group counseling lessons.

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Abigail Balfe is an Emmy Award-winning author, illustrator, and creator of marketing and social media campaigns whose latest book "A Different Kind of Normal" (Its stateside title. It was originally published under "A Different Sort of Normal" in her native U.K.) is a middle-grade targeted journey through Balfe's own diagnosis at the age of 33 as being neurodivergent.

On her own website, Balfe writes "I create stories based on my own life experiences and a desire to help children of various ages through difficult situations and emotions. My projects often reflect underrepresented themes including family addiction, spirituality and autism." Indeed, "A Different Kind of Normal" is a different kind of book. While the book's chapters are well organized, "A Different Kind of Normal" weaves together Balfe's whimsical yet emotionally resonant illustrations and her rather freestyle form of storytelling into a book that defies traditional rules of literature in favor of a writing style, at least I'm guessing, more suited to the way her brain works.

For those who are able to sync with Balfe's rhythm, this will be a unique but inspired journey. For those unable to do so, "A Different Kind of Normal" may prove to be a more challenging reading experience and one that is most certainly devoid of the expected narrative structure.

While Balfe occasionally reflects upon her adult years here, a good majority of "A Different Kind of Normal" immerses us in her childhood and teen years as she sought to figure out how to adapt to the "normal" world when she was aware of feeling very, very different.

While there's a certain bit of whimsy to Balfe's writing, rest assured that she tackles difficult themes with refreshing honesty such as bullying, sexuality, and the challenges of dealing with adults who largely dismissed those things which made her unique.

I often resonated with Balfe's writing as an adult with a disability myself who has worked in the field of autism for many years. I appreciated her honesty, vulnerability, and willingness to speak about, or at least write about, sensitive subjects that are often not addressed by writers dealing with disability or autism. Other times, however, I can't help but feel like Balfe's more freestyle approach to writing gets away from her a bit and turns into writing that feels disjointed, unfocused, and not well developed.

For example, early on in "A Different Kind of Normal" Balfe writes about how so many people write about autism using complex language or big words and she declares "A Different Kind of Normal" doesn't do that.

But, it actually does do that. Repeatedly. While it helps that Balfe occasionally provides a definition for these words, it still feels weird every time it happens.

Additionally, while it's refreshing that Balfe deals with sexuality it's worth noting that she does so in an expansive and often progressive way that may prove challenging for more conservative readers who may pick up the book unaware of this since it's really not mentioned in the book's marketing. While sexuality is a valuable discussion here, there are conversations that distract from the book's stated goals. Am I offended? Not in the least. However, some readers may very well be.

Can you write for every reader? Of course not. However, I'm just not convinced that everything here really serves the purpose of the book as clearly as needs to happen.

There are times that Balfe's writing comes off as loose and tangential, however, then she manages to toss out zinger after zinger and remarkable insight after remarkable insight. So, while I'm not convinced it works as well as it should it's still largely effective.

The books closing chapters are incredibly valuable as Balfe presents a diverse kaleidoscope of resources and materials for children, teens, allies, and others. For these chapters alone, I would easily recommend "A Different Type of Normal."

Balfe's illustrations throughout are beautiful to behold, emotionally immersive, and they simply add so much to the material at hand. They simply enhance the material greatly.

I will confess that I didn't entirely click with "A Different Type of Normal," however, Balfe's unique voice is invaluable for its honesty, integrity, sensitivity, and literary open arms. You can't help but feel like Balfe is giving her readers a literary hug of reassurance and a whisper of "You can do this" for those still enduring the challenging childhood and adolescent years. An absolute gem of a book for those who are neurodivergent and for everyone else, "A Different Type of Normal" may not be the book you expect it to be but it's most assuredly the book we need it to be.

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Every school and library needs to get this book for their shelves. It was a wonderful, heartfelt journal. I always say everyone deserves to find themselves on the shelves and we need more books just like this.

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I believe this book could be quite effective at building empathy for neurodivergent classmates by giving them a glimpse into how the author’s brain works and how that effected their ability to navigate and live within a neurotypical environment. We could all use a bit more understanding when it comes to people who are different from ourselves and this memoir can open those conversations.

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so much of this book echoed my own experiences; reading it felt like walking through my own mind. the order of the stories, the artwork and definitions, just ... everything felt right.

this was an especially lovely experience because I finished Ellen Outside the Lines not that long ago and I feel like this would be a WONDERFUL companion book to Ellen.

read this if you enjoy cg drews social media presence, kelly jensen's non fiction anthologies, and/or any #actuallyautistic books!!!

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When I first saw this book I was expecting a childrens picture book, this book is definitely not that! This book is much longer and is more of a graphic novel. It's filled with the authors experiences growing up as a child with autism (who never knew that term until she was much older). She includes poems, stories, facts, pictures, and tips for other people who have an autism diagnosis. Some of the stories jumped around quite a bit, but that is also an example of the brain of someone with autism. I'm not quite sure who the audience for this book would be. I am picturing some of my middle school or high school students picking this book up. I am curious how students with autism would connect to this book. I hope this shines a light for some of those children and gives them a sense of connection and belonging. Thanks to NetGalley and Random House Childrens for providing me an ebook to review.

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