Reviewed by Magdalena Ball
Wings to Fly: An Asperger Soars
by Linda Brooks
2012, ISBN: 978-1477574867, 190pages
If I had to come up with a single word to describe Linda Brooks’ writing it would be ‘accessible’. I don’t just mean that it’s easy to read. I mean that there’s a down-to-earth quality that feels as though you’re being confided in, laughed with, drawn into the story. Wings to Fly is a follow up to I’m Not Broken I’m Just Different, the story of Linda’s experience as parent to Bronson, a boy with Asperger’s syndrome. Although there are a few reminders of the tremendous difficulties Linda experienced with Bronson’s high school, in Wings to Fly Bronson is mostly grown-up, and Linda reflects back, with some sadness and a lot of pride, on how far he has come. As with I’m Not Broken I’m Just Different, the book contains general information on Asperger’s from Professor Tony Atwood as well as a range of different perspectives on both Asperger’s in general and on the development of Bronson in particular. These include chapters by Bronson’s brother Luke, his best friend JT, his godmother, his doctor and counsellor. There are also sections by other parents of children with Asperger’s, and of course a number of often very funny personal anecdotes, experiences and insights from Linda.
Parents who are struggling to come to terms with an Asperger’s child will find this book particularly valuable. There is companionship, camaraderie, and support as well as a positive, humorous outlook that is inspirational for all people struggling to cope with their children (that’s all parents), or to come to terms with the different perspectives that we all have (that’s all people). The writing is simple, pleasurable, and above all, intimate. There is much wisdom here, but also insight and humour which will help others get through the difficult times. Ultimately, what Wings to Fly shows us is that those with Asperger’s and indeed all people who may be in different places on the personality spectrum, are to be celebrated, even when things are hard and when institutions like schools and workplaces make it harder. The greatest contributions in our society often come from those with individual and unique outlooks, and it’s obvious from Wings to Fly that neither Linda Brooks nor her son Bronson are exceptions to that.
About the reviewer: Magdalena Ball is the author of the novels Black Cow and Sleep Before Evening, the poetry books Repulsion Thrust and Quark Soup, a nonfiction book The Art of Assessment, and, in collaboration with Carolyn Howard-Johnson, Deeper Into the Pond, Blooming Red, Cherished Pulse, She Wore Emerald Then, and Imagining the Future. She also runs a radio show, The Compulsive Reader Talks. Find out more about Magdalena at www.magdalenaball.com.