Pretending to be Normal: Living with Asperger's Syndrome
Author: Liane Holliday Willey
Publisher: Jessica Kingsley, 1999 ISBN 1853027499

Reviewed by
Linda Wanfried

I borrowed this book from the library and had to renew it three times. Sometimes a book is so compelling that I put aside other demands of my life in order to soak up the insights and wisdom of the author. I wasn't drawn to this book that way.

I kept thinking I should love this book, since we have a family member who is a really high functioning (sometimes) guy with the Asperger diagnosis. I thought the book would really hit home with me. Instead I kept feeling that I couldn't relate to what she was saying.

The author explains that she realized she is probably Asperger after one of her twin daughters was diagnosed. She began to understand her difficulties as a child and as an adult. She is especially well equipped to help her daughter cope. Indeed she offers quite a lot of coping strategies that are very useful for anyone on the autism spectrum.

Even though there is so much good information, I just couldn't get into this book. I forced myself to finish it.

When I returned the book to the library, I thought, "Well I hate to write a negative review, I'll just choose another book to write about".

As I was returning it I noticed that on the back cover there is a glowing endorsement from Barb Kirby, who runs the fabulous Asperger website called OASIS. The URL is I thought if this person, who may be the most educated layperson about Aspergers in the universe, thinks highly of the book, perhaps I ought to give it another chance.

I went to the library to try to borrow the book again in preparation for writing this review, but no luck, somebody has it.

I don't know what it is that bugged me about it. Maybe it was the writing style. This book does explain in great detail about idiosyncracies of behavior such as obsessional interests, rigidity of thought, and need for routine which are common for "Aspies".

There is information about who and when to tell about the diagnosis. There is advice on how to get along in college and the working world.

The author gives a lot of details of her childhood experiences with sensory issues, and challenges she faces in her adult life.

So it really is an interesting inside picture of an Asperger woman's life. We hope that greater understanding can lead to more patience, tolerance and compassion. So I support every effort to educate the public about Aspergers and Autism.

I hate to do a rating on this book because I have such mixed emotions. I'll have to read it again. (book obsession?? hmmm...) For now I'll give it three out of five chocolate candy Valentine kisses.

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