Friday, July 25, 2014

‘Navigating Early’ by Clare Vanderpool

Book cover: Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool. Two boys row a boat on a river, surrounded on each side by trees.
Early Auden sees a story in the numbers that make up Pi. His response when confronted with the claim by a professor that the number 1 has disappeared from Pi and that Pi will eventually end, is that “sometimes he’s hard to find for a while, but he always comes back. I always find him.”

In 1945, Early and a classmate, Jack Baker, follow the Appalachian Trail on a quest to “look for Pi.”

As the journey unfolds, Early reveals details about his older brother, reportedly killed during D-Day (the Allied invasion at Normandy).

Through the lens of Jack's first-person narration, Early emerges as a fascinating character. He exhibits traits of an autistic savant without those traits ever being named. Among additional resources, author Clare Vanderpool includes first-hand accounts by people on the autism spectrum: Thinking in Pictures by Temple Grandin and Born on a Blue Day by Daniel Tammet.

In her afterword, Vanderpool explains, she chose not to use the terms “autism” or “savant” in the story, “because most people in 1945 would have been unfamiliar with them, and most people with autism would have been undiagnosed. A person like Early would just have been considered strange.”

Navigating Early (Delacorte Press, 2013) was recommended to me by Denise Wilson at the Ashland Branch Library, Jackson County Library Services in Oregon.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Robust debate and even unusual opinions are encouraged, but please stay on-topic and be respectful. Comments are subject to review for personal attacks or insults, discriminatory statements, hyperlinks not directly related to the discussion and commercial spam.