Unrecognizable: to flee away, and in his head

Méconnaissable: fuir au loin, et dans sa tête

To better understand the universe of autism, why not slip into their head, under their skin, at the heart of their perceptions ? And so live a haunting fugue.

Valerie Jessica Laporte was discovered in the late thirties that she was autistic. But this is not her life that she recounts in beyond recognition, his first novel ; instead, she has delved into his perceptions – the intolerance to noise or certain tissues, the obsession for order and symmetry – to feed the plot that she has created.

Because plot there is, and it embeds completely.

The narrator of Unrecognizable is a girl of a dozen years, which, clearly, is different from the other, that his mother denies it fiercely. She has to stop his whims and everything will be better, for him she repeats.

But nothing goes to the house, and even less at school ! The child tries, however, all his strength to bend to the expectations, but the discomforts and disasters are linked. And each time, the girl breaks down, and then runs out to reorganize.

Then one day, she decides to flee. She shaves her head, dons the jersey of the superhero of his younger brother, transformed himself into the boy. Then she went to the camping not far from home and sneaks in a caravan which the owners will soon take the road.

It is as well that it will end up in Ontario, in another campsite. It will hide in it during the summer.


His parents separated, the seek and the police will be put on the spot – but as the mother does not report the peculiarities of his daughter, this does not facilitate research.

Throughout this summer out of the ordinary, it will be the little girl. We’ll see how she manages to survive, but we will also share the slightest tremor of his skin and all that exaggerates the impression of exploding. And then all the tiny actions to take, so she picks up her fragments of the body and the spirit, as it says, and that it recover its balance.


The sentences of the novel are a careful precision, and you sometimes have to catch his breath as one perceives the suffering of the child. “I was then touched me and eats like teeth are poisonous. ”

The exercise is demanding, but it is at the bottom the image of the effort required for autism to bend to ” the world of the neurotypical “, as we call people ” normal “.

Above all, the narrative opens us to a different logic, which also makes us smile. When we hang on to in the flowers of the carpet, he has to do is pull it out, no ?… So why is it screaming mom ?

Unrecognizable was first a novel, and it is the writer Kim Thuy, who had read and whose son is autistic, which prompted the author to write a novel. A welcome initiative, because there is nothing like the fiction to immerse themselves in a world unknown. And here it is fully immersed.

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