“The White Bicycle” by Beverley Brenna was part of my quest to read through the Printz award winners and nominees. I didn’t know much about the book before I read it, and I was intrigued that once I started reading it, the main character had Aspberger’s. Not since reading “A Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nightime” have I read a character from this point of view. I’m glad that this book was included in the Printz honor list.
Taylor has been hired by her mother’s boyfriend, Alan, to be his son, Martin’s “personal care assistant” (Taylor’s term for babysitting so she can put it on her resume) as he has Cerebal Palsy. Her mother has decided to tag a long as the whole group will be spending three weeks in the south of France. It was difficult at first to get into Taylor’s voice as she narrates the novel. Once I became accustomed to her voice I appreciated the way she saw the world. She fights for her autonomy and refuses to just let people “baby” her because shes different. I think too many times we as a society infantilize individuals on the Autism Spectrum. Yes, I realize it’s a spectrum, but I think that teachers and parents sometimes over protect those that are high functioning and it builds up frustration amongst all parties. This ended up the main conflict in the novel between Taylor and her mother.
One critique I had of the novel was that towards the end of the novel, using dramatic irony, Brenna introduces the idea that Martin’s brother, Luke, is gay. He doesn’t come out and maybe it’s because Taylor is narrating it, but there’s not a clear addressing of this. I wish it had been developed whether it’s because Taylor doesn’t care, the family doesn’t care, or whether Luke isn’t ready to come-out. None of these are addressed and it felt like it was an add on to the plot.
Overall I may read the earlier books in this series as I enjoyed this one and it was a fast read. I also think this is a book that would be great to have in a high school classroom for independent reading or for a companion to other books about unique points of view.