Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2015-06-01
- Reviewer: Staff
Todd Aaron has lived at the Payton Living Center, a therapeutic community for those with autism, for more than 40 years. Known as the “village elder,” he passes his time working with the center’s grounds crew, or serving hot lunch at a local school. But when a new roommate, the brain-injured, abrasive Tommy Doon, and a new staff member, Mike Hinton, suddenly appear, Todd’s quiet existence begins to unravel. Mike reminds Todd of his abusive dead father and uses Todd as cover to assist him in devious acts, while Tommy spends his time yelling at Todd and searching for whatever dark secrets his roommates may have. Added to this is the arrival of Martine, a one-eyed resident who takes a shine to Todd, and whom he admires. Pressure builds, and Todd decides his best option is to escape the center and make his way back to his hometown and his wealthy brother. The latest from Gottlieb (The Boy Who Went Away) is written through the perspective of Todd: his voice is spectacular, oscillating between casual and obsessive and frequently challenging the stereotypes that haunt those with autism and similar conditions. The story will appeal to a very broad range of readers: it’s a fast read, and the plot is never less than captivating. Some narrative threads dissolve, but the conclusion is very satisfying, and Gottlieb’s attention to crafting Todd’s internal monologue is something to behold. (Aug.)