This book is about a boy called Joe. He's ten and he's my son. It's a story of strange happenings and human riddles; it invites fantastical speculation and argues something brazen, preposterous even: that until you know Joe's unusual life, you won't fully understand your own. Nowadays, he lives with the label "autistic": broad, ill-defined, ill-fitting, and unexplained, a label that's best put aside before getting to know him.
The events in his life are sometimes mortifying, sometimes comical, poignant, or weird, but above all for me now, they are fascinating. Fascination is one of the greatest consolation of this life of his, otherwise so frustrating, and I prefer that kind of consolation to pity; but thinking about Joe's uniqueness pays doubly, with a deeper understanding of all our humanity than I could ever achieve by dwelling on my own. What makes him fascinating? In part, seeing what we have in comparison to what he lack. He makes much that we take for granted appear suddenly luminous, and we see equally starkly where we would be without it. As one eminent researcher put it, Joe's condition teaches us "nothing less than the peopleness of people."
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