As an Occupational-Therapist-in-the-making, books about people on the spectrum are particularly close to my heart (case in point, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon). Stim by Kevin Berry is no exception.
An amazing 5 out of 5 stars for STIM.
Robert is different. He has Asperger’s Syndrome. He experiences the world differently to 99% of the population. Follow his entertaining and highly empathetic story as he struggles to realise and accept who he really is, try to understand other people—which he cannot—and find a girlfriend. Especially find a girlfriend—he’s decided it’s his special project for the year. Accompanied on this transformative journey by his quirky flatmates, Chloe (who also has Asperger’s, amongst other things), Stef (who hasn’t, but doesn’t mind) and their oddly-named kitten, Robert endures a myriad of awkward moments in his quest to meet a nice, normal girl…and not even a major earthquake will stop him.
This absorbing and humorous story is starkly told from Robert’s point of view, through the kaleidoscope of autistic experience.
Neuro-Typicals (NTs), or those people who do not belong to the spectrum, often misunderstand Aspies. I can’t help but feel my heart hurt for Robert every time the people around him misinterpret what he does or what he says. This is an eye-opening reflection of something that happens in reality. As Robert tries to navigate the social conventions of the NT world, he is constantly reminded of how different he is. There are instances in the story when I wish I could be in there to defend Robert. At the same time, it was also awe-inspiring to see how he bravely tried to understand NTs as well.
Stim was written amazingly. The fact that the author know what it’s really like to be an Aspie gives Stim that genuineness, that honest quality that makes it so much more endearing to readers. It’s fun to read and at the same time, I can actually feel myself drawn into Robert’s world. Generally, Stim is a light, easy read but, like I said, you can’t help but feel sad for Robert as he struggles to find his place and where and how he fits in the world around him.
It is also a very funny and hilarious account of Robert’s day-to-day adventures. It was really very entertaining to read! There were some real LOL moments and I loved every single moment that I spent reading Stim.
Stim gives us a glimpse into the Aspie mind and what a very fascinating mind it really is! Aside from being a breath of fresh air, Stim also provides an enlightening experience for non-ASD persons to learn more about ASD. Remarkably, what struck me the most about Stim was that it narrates Robert’s story with a depth and clarity that can rival most books of the same genre out there. Stim has that quietly profound quality that I can’t help but admire. Another striking thing is that its author, Kevin Berry, is an Aspire as well. He was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome at the age of 42. As an occupational therapy student, we often encounter clients with Aspergers. We learn about ASD in our classes and, just so you know, writing a novel would be difficult for people in the spectrum.
You see, oftentimes, people on the spectrum experience problems with what they call the THEORY OF MIND. As neurotypicals, we often don’t notice this becomes it comes so easily and automatically to us. Theory of Mind says that when we see another person, we can automatically assume what that other person is thinking based on what he or she is doing. For people on the spectrum, they have trouble getting into another person’s frame of mind and they also find it difficult to assume another person’s perspective. This is another reason why I found it an amazing feat that Kevin Berry was able to write a full-pledged novel.
Stim, for me, is a testament of his talent and skill as an author. Just reading about Robert and Chloe and the rest of the characters in Stim was an amazing thing by itself. I mean, I really admired how the characters were all complex in their own way. It's just incredible how Kevin Berry was able to transcend his diagnosis and go on to write numerous novels. I admire him for not letting his ASD get in the way of realizing his calling to become an author. Because, frankly, judging by how well Stim is written, he was made to write! He was made to share his unique take on the world through his writing. And it's a privilege, I think, to have been able to share that experience with him as his audience.
Kevin Berry wonderfully captured the Aspie world and encapsulated it into a book that informs, inspires, and empowers. I enjoyed immersing myself in Robert’s life and it was an exciting experience.
I highly recommend that you guys read it, too! It’ll be worth it!