I thought this book was a breath of fresh air with an innovative premise.
It highlights an important issue in our society, how our misconceptions about autism and other syndromes on the spectrum still define the way we treat people who fall into those categories.
It was a bold move on Owen’s part, to create a character with Asperger’s, and weave this quite complex and fast paced psychological thriller around it. I enjoyed and was intrigued by the choice. Authors tend to stay away from awkward or characters ‘deemed’ different by society.
It not only gives an insight into the mind of a person with Asperger’s and in doing so may help others understand the difficulties they deal with on a daily basis. In this case the prison setting exacerbates the Asperger’s, which in itself is quite an interesting read.
I think the most fascinating parts of the story are the ones dealing with both the limitations and advantages of Maria’s Asperger’s. The moments when the reader gets a really vivid insight into the mindset, the decision process, the fears and the very distinct processes she applies to her surroundings and people.
Maria finds herself accused, convicted of and imprisoned for murder. She is convinced of her innocence and confused by all the events that have brought her to this point. Initially she is confined to solitary, a grave mistake on their part, especially in combination with her syndrome.
A cat and mouse game ensues between Maria, her mind and whoever is sitting in the interview/therapy room with her. Suddenly everyone is part of her ‘imagined’ conspiracy theories. She starts to doubt her innocence, perhaps she really is a brutal killer. Maybe everyone is right and she is losing touch with reality. Or are her theories not just figments of her imagination.
An unusual friendship blossoms between Maria and an inmate. Unusual because her social filters and skills usually make such a connection difficult.
Maria’s biggest battle is with herself, there is no doubt about that. She can’t trust her instincts, her perceptions or any interactions she has with any person. Any one else would probably go completely insane, so I guess there must be something really special about Maria, right? I’ll leave you to find that out for yourself.