GOOD MORNING, BLAKE is a first-person memoir told from Blake Priddle’s point of view as an autistic man, reminiscing about his early childhood, his school years, his first steps into adulthood, and culminating in his success as a radio news reporter and host. The book is told mostly in his words, but also includes contributions from his parents, family members, friends, and co-workers, giving their perspective on events and on their relationships with Blake. Neurotypical people who have people with autism in their lives – a child, a student, an employer or employee, a teacher, a friend, a lover or spouse – will do well to pay attention to these comments, which offer much useful advice, both directly and by example, on how to listen to, support, and build healthy relationships of various sorts with autistic people.
The book’s language is readable, simple, and to the point, giving the reader a clear view of Blake’s experiences as an autistic child, teenager, and man, and of how being on the spectrum affected his life as well as the life of family, friends, parents and teachers. The old saying is true – if you’ve met one autistic person, you’ve met one autistic person – but there are commonalities, and Blake, who has clearly done a great deal of emotional and intellectual introspection throughout his life, has some valuable insights to offer. From his experience, he offers useful suggestions as to what accommodations and strategies were most helpful for him growing up, as well as encouragement for both autistic people and those who love and want to support them. His tone is optimistic, the voice of a young man determined to succeed and follow his dreams, but he doesn’t shy away from talking about painful experiences, or from acknowledging that some autistic people have a much more difficult time finding independence and a good life for themselves.
Priddle talks about his experiences with contagious enthusiasm, thoughtful self-reflection, and careful attention to the little details that make life worth living. He discusses the debate on whether autism spectrum is a “disorder” or simply a “divergence” without judgment or criticism of those on either side, simply offering his thoughts while acknowledging that others have different experiences and different perspectives. His warm sense of humor also stands out here, never cruel or mocking, and as willing to laugh at himself as at anyone else. All in all, the reader gets the sense of having spent time in the company of a warm, wise, generous person who has had painful experiences and learned from them, who laughs readily and lives well, and that’s worth the read in and of itself.
A clear, thoughtful memoir with an upbeat tone, GOOD MORNING, BLAKE is both a delightful read and a valuable perspective on growing up autistic in a neurotypical world.
~Catherine Langrehr for IndieReader