Haze ISBN: 9781843100720
Published by Jessica Kingsley, 2003
I had some doubts about including this as it is at the very top of our age range, but it is so well written, so 'right' that I felt it should be included. There are occasional sexual suggestions that are quite subtle and that younger children might not understand, as is fine for a book about 15 and 16 year olds, but while there is a tender and important love story, there is nothing explicit. Occasional language is forthright! As a school librarian, I would not have hesitated to give this to 11 and 12 year olds. Seb has Asperger Syndrome but doesn't know it. He only knows he is very different from the other kids his age. He is a loner, very into computers and maths and extremely competent in both. He is bullied at school. His parents don't know how to help him. He becomes sort-of friends with three girls in his class, but they are puzzled by him too, particularly his seeming rudeness. But they persevere, and one of them, Madeline, seems to understand him better than most. She has her own problems, a mother who is probably psychotic, but at least extremely difficult, and Maddy is allowed no freedom. It is Seb who ultimately helps her. A computer hacker comes into the plot, along with a helpful teacher who sees Seb's problems and realises he must have AS. As Seb and Maddy become closer, he learns what she needs and she accepts him as he is. A particularly beautiful section of the book comes after the death of Maddy's grandmother, whom she has been close to, and whom she misses tremendously. The characters in this novel are seriously well written, completely believable and very likeable, and there is much hope that Seb will get the help he needs from school, family and friends alike. Available from Amazon, from bookshops, or from the publisher at www.jkp.com.