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October 1, 2018

He Could Be Another Bill Gates by Donna Levin ~ a Review #MondayBlogs

by MK French

Anna Kagen has two children with her ex-husband, sixteen-year-old Jack who is on the autism spectrum, and five-year-old Marissa. Anna is overwhelmed by single parenthood and doesn't think she would ever date again until she meets Jason, a man that has an autistic son of his own. Jack is also in the midst of a budding romance of his own.
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He Could Be Another Bill Gates
October 2018; Chickadee Prince Books
978-0999756935; ebook, print (324 pages)
women's fiction
We have a great view into how Jack thinks from the very start, with the social awkwardness inherent in the autism spectrum, as well as his difficulties with language and letting things go. We also see Anna, harried and overwhelmed, trying hard to be a good parent when there are extra considerations for Jack's needs. Introducing Trevor, another boy on the spectrum showcases how different children can be, yet still carry the same diagnosis. We see them not only as they see themselves, but as others do, too. There is a lot of awkwardness with stepfamilies and blending households, as well as visitation, custody and childcare arrangements.

The novel is very day-in-the-life so that we go from moment to moment and see how the characters all navigate the usual trials that we go through. Anna and Jason get closer, and that's contrasted with how Jack thinks of his friend Ashleigh, as well as her experience at a Stanford party, peers her age and even her teacher. There are a lot of changes in the characters over the course of the novel, though the core deficits in Jack's and Trevor's autism doesn't change. They learn how to navigate in social events better, and even if they don't understand it, and peers in school understand them better due to Ashleigh's efforts.

Relationships are tumultuous for everyone in the novel, even five-year-old Marissa, who doesn't like the noise and change in her mother's home, then doesn't like the isolation and quiet in her father's. There are never any easy or pat solutions given for these issues, much like in real life, and having the story told in multiple perspectives means we understand their viewpoints and what really is the best possible outcome for everyone. I did find it a bit confusing switching from one perspective to another, as they weren't clearly marked at the start of chapters or sections within a chapter, but it's easy enough to figure out within a few paragraphs. This slice of their lives is engaging really drew me in so that I could feel the secondhand embarrassment that they did, or their disappointments and joys. I enjoyed getting to know all of them, and wish them well in their future.

Buy He Could Be Another Bill Gates at Amazon

Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and golden retriever. 

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