Book Review: Look Me in the Eye – My Life with Asperger’s by John Elder Robison

Look Me In The Eye
Title: Look Me In The Eye: My Life with Asperger’s
Author: John Elder Robison
Social Media: Blog, Facebook, Goodreads and Twitter
Publisher: RHA eBooks Adult, imprint of Penguin Random House Australia
Format and Price: eBook at $10.99
Rating: 4 out of 5

About The Author:
I was born in rural Georgia, where my dad worked as a country preacher. I was kind of a misfit growing up. In fact, the bigger I got, the more misfit I became. At age 8, I got a little brother, and he was a misfit too. I dropped out of school in 10th grade, and never looked back. My brother dropped out a few years later, following in my footsteps. I’ve had a number of careers. I designed sound systems for discos. I designed effects for KISS. I designed sound systems for more bands than I could count. Then, I took up electronic game design. I worked on fire alarms and power supplies. I even worked with lasers. Finally, 20 years ago, I gave up technology to start an automobile repair business.

That was where I was when my brother told some of our story in his 2002 memoir Running With Scissors. A few years later, I decided to tell my own story. I wrote a book called Look Me in the Eye, my life with Asperger’s. Well, that kind of changed everything for me. I was, like, fully out of the closet and under the public microscope. Today, I have an active speaking schedule, I’m also involved in Asperger/autism research and I’m a member of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee of the US Dept of Health and Human Services.

I’ve published three books so far, and I’m hard at work on the fourth. They are:
Look Me In The Eye (2007)
Be Different (2011)
Raising Cubby (2013)

In addition to being a book author, I own J E Robison Service Co in Springfield, Massachusetts. Robison Service does service, repair, and restoration work on European cars, with particular emphasis on BMW, Mercedes, Land Rover, Bentley, and Rolls Royce. I’m interested in music, photography, small boats, hiking and the outdoors, and reading

About The Book:
Ever since he was young, John Robison longed to connect with other people, but by the time he was a teenager, his odd habits—an inclination to blurt out non sequiturs, avoid eye contact, dismantle radios, and dig five-foot holes (and stick his younger brother, Augusten Burroughs, in them)—had earned him the label “social deviant.” It was not until he was forty that he was diagnosed with a form of autism called Asperger’s syndrome. That understanding transformed the way he saw himself—and the world. A born storyteller, Robison has written a moving, darkly funny memoir about a life that has taken him from developing exploding guitars for KISS to building a family of his own. It’s a strange, sly, indelible account—sometimes alien, yet always deeply human

General Observations:
~Interesting Narrative: John Elder Robison is a great story-teller, his journey from rejected teenage misfit to accepted eccentric adult is enjoyable, humorous and relatable. Hearing stories about his and Augusten’s childhood abuse from mentally ill parents (which also involved alcoholism) were tough for me to read, however John Elder Robison managed to make the experiences compelling to read, which isn’t easy. I felt the narrative only really started to take off after he left high school and was free to pursue his career in sound engineering (despite the lack of qualifications). The narrative flowed well and had good pacing. It also had a good degree of details (enough that you knew what was going on but not too much)

~Brotherly Bond: Reading Look Me In The Eye gave me the strong urge to read Running With Scissors, just to see things from a different point of view. It may sound strange but I really enjoyed the chapters of the two of them together or when John Elder Robison talks about his brother. He accepts the fact that he can no longer call him “varmint” but his Asperger tendencies prevent him from calling him “Augusten”, I think it’s sweet how he comes to agree on the middle ground of “my brother” instead.

Overall, an interesting memoir that I’m happy to recommend but I don’t feel the urge to continue reading the rest of his other books (however, I’m not discouraging others from doing so). However, I would also really recommend that secondary colleges exchange The Curious Incident of The Dog in the Night-time for Look Me In The Eye, I found it to be a much better representation of Asperger’s or Autism Spectrum Disorder.

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