I started Little Victories by Yvon Roy on a Saturday and because it was not an easy read (subject and the presentation is weighty), finished it on Sunday. After I was done, I knew three things: I was going to have to get a copy for my sister and cousin, I was going to write a long review and I was not sure how to recommend this book so that it would be “publisher friendly.” I mean, I liked it, but I did not like it. Yet, I liked it and how do I say that?
This graphic novel (I am assuming it is going to be black and white illustrations with the only color on the cover) is one father’s story of how he and his son grew together. His son Oliver has a form of autism that means he has many of the stereotypes we associate with it. However, he also has his own unique needs and challenges. There are the realistic feelings of our narrator shown on every page. Mark, our narrator, has feelings that range from “my son is not normal” to “how can I help” to understanding things will not always work out as hoped or planned. There are all the ups and downs Mark faces: his marriage breaking up, trying to date, trying to work, trying to help his son, and trying to find “me” time. Mark is not always likable. He does things some people will judge him for, but that is because he is human. In many ways, this book is more about Roy’s own journey with his son (through the voice of his character) than about an autistic child. This is not a technical book on autism, or a “one true wayism” read, but just one man and what happened.
The interesting part of the book for me was how how there are several schools of thoughts going on all at once. Mark, while respecting the professionals/teachers (to a point) finds ways to work with Ollie that work for him and his son. The schools and professionals due what they think is right and Ollie’s mother does things her way (though mostly you do not see her interact directly with Ollie but see her through her interactions with her ex-husband). Each way works, each way is the “right way”, and each way might be the opposite from what you would do.
I like several of the things the Roy shows his character doing as I think they would be great for most kids with autism. My “favorite” probably being the shaking up of routine. That is rule number one with most autistic children: keep the routine. Yet, he shows how “mixing it up” also is good for the child. I also like how Mark teaches Ollie as if he was a “normal” child (when Ollie falls, instead of freaking out like the mother next to Mark does, he starts laughing). Of course, he adapts his actions to the needs of Ollie, as any teacher/parent should try (when possible) to adapt to a child’s learning format. The word “normal” is used, the way the professionals speak make me wonder if they did know what was best, or like us all, they were just holding on. I enjoyed the book as I saw myself as an aunt of an autistic child. Overall, the book can make you think.
I would recommend this to adults over teens, but of course, there is nothing wrong for teens. However, due to sexual situations and drug use, younger or sensitive kids might not be the best readers. It could work well with parents or family who have an autistic child or professionals who work with autistic children. But it could work for someone just interested in learning about one man and his unique journey. And like or hate his methods, like I said above, you will most likely come away thinking about the book.