I received this book for free from LibraryThing in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Published by Orca Book Publishers on March 7th 2017
Genres: Australian, Contemporary, Disability, Family, Fiction, Mental Illness
Twins Justine and Perry have left their home in Australia and embarked on the road trip of a lifetime in the Pacific Northwest.Amazon •
It's been a year since their dad lost his battle with cancer and Justine became the sole caregiver for her autistic brother, Perry. Now Perry has been accepted into an assisted-living residence in their hometown, Brisbane, Australia, but before he takes up residence, they're seeking to create the perfect memory.
For Perry, the trip is a glorious celebration of some of his favorite things: Ogopogo, Jackie Chan movies, and earthquakes. For Justine, it's an opportunity to learn how to let go of Perry and of her boyfriend, Marc. Justine also wants to offer their mother the chance to atone for past wrongs.
But the instability that has shaped their lives will not subside, and the seismic event that Perry forewarned threatens to reduce their worlds to rubble...
Mature-Content Rating: Language
“You are responsible for the actions of your hands and the words from your mouth and the feelings in your heart. Dad used to tell me: If you go through life finding fault in others, you’ll end up in a world of one. He said we need the people around us—warts and all—and I understand this much better now that I’m older.”
Perry “Pez” has a mental condition. The book never comes out and states what exactly he’s diagnosed with (except for the back blurb), but from the way the character was portrayed it was clear that he has some form of autism. The cover points out two of Pez’s three main interests: earthquakes, and sea monsters, with the third missing element being Jackie Chan movies.
His interests are a vital part of the story. He constantly compares his sister’s emotions to tremors and fragments of the earth, sees a little of himself in the misunderstood sea monsters, and tries to find his own courage in his hero. The book is sectioned off and allows the reader to see Pez’s point-of-view, which was my favorite parts of the book. You really never know when you’re reading something that is a part of his imagination or something that is really happening.
Readers that are not familiar with Pez’s condition might not understand the ticks, which I think will add to the story since people finding it hard to interact with him plays a major part in the plot.
Justine “Just Jeans” is a strong and pure female main character that never sees her brother as a burden, but just as her brother and is more annoyed with the people who see Pez as anything but. Throughout the plot she is struggling with her brother’s decision to leave her care and join a community for the disabled, meeting her mother for the first time in over a decade, and her boyfriends constant worry for the two of them.
The interactions between the siblings are the best parts of the book. Simple everyday touches described in such detail brought the characters to life, such as the twins always holding hands with only three fingers.
But the book isn’t just about the sibling bond between Justine and Perry. Their mother left when they were four and the road trip planned by Justine is her final chance to be in their lives. She’s a bit of a mix between new age and hippie.
Even if he’s not officially in the book, the reader does get glimpses of what kind of father the twins had through a journal he kept for Justine since she was born. Pages of the journal are placed into the book to give windows into their past, showing both the twins growing up and giving a little history of their mother and father.
Are You Seeing Me? is a heartwarming, and heartbreaking, novel about family bonds and how a disability doesn’t make a person any less of a human.