Look Me in the Eye by John Elder Robison This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

November 8, 2011
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Look Me in the Eye by John Elder Robison offers unique insight into the mind and life of an individual with Asperger's, a form of autism. As Robison walks us through his life – including an alcoholic father, an insane mother, and building smoking guitars for the band KISS – we quickly begin to understand how every one of his experiences is either enhanced or restricted by his condition. Although he's limited in his understanding of social interactions, Robison manages to effectively build a relationship with the reader. While it would be extremely easy for him to slip into a pity plea, Robison tells his story with an open mind, a tender heart, and a touch of humor.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone willing to explore the unknown side of misunderstood conditions. Although a reader may not be able to connect to every carefully thought-out emotion Robison experiences, there are definitely parts of the story that are easy to relate to. Robison struggles to build friendships, family ties, and social connections. Ever since he was a child, he has been searching for the place he fits in a world he doesn't always understand.

In between various scenes of his life, Robison offers the reader an explanation of why he thinks and feels the way he does. The clever transitions between the telling of his story and the explanations of a disorder are smooth and seamless. Not only do we walk through Robison's life with him, we also swim through decades of research and discoveries dealing with Asperger's Syndrome. A handful of these discoveries shine through in Robison's writing. For example, the detail and accuracy with which he remembers conversations, names, places, and people is stunning. As Robison explains, an advanced memory is a common trait of “Aspergerians,” as he calls them.

As we witness his triumphs and experience his failures, Robison teaches us not only about the quirks of people with Asperger's, but also the flaws that may be found within ourselves. This is a story of overcoming obstacles, of never giving up, and most of all, of believing in ourselves. If you are looking for an inspiration, or a healing touch, look no further than in the eyes of John Elder Robison.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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