We recently read The London Eye Mystery and I was impressed with the way the author had written Ted, a character who is autistic and is portrayed in a realistic and positive manner. So when I discovered there was a second book – The Guggenheim Mystery I immediately reserved it at our library. Now I must start by stating the second book is not actually written by the same author (Siobhan Dowd) of the London Eye Mystery because she actually passed away from cancer, the second book is written by a different author (Robin Stevens) but it has the same main characters and similar plot/feeling of the first.
The Guggenheim Mystery still centers around Ted (who is autistic), his sister Kat and their family. It is set a few months after The London Eye Mystery and in this adventure they go to visit their cousin and aunt who have moved to New York. A mystery unfolds (a painting is stolen) and Ted once again has to use his unique way of thinking to solve the case as his aunt is falsely accused. No one dies in this, there are no ghastly accidents or anything gruesome, it is a detective style story where they slowly work through a list to eliminate potential suspects and work out what did actually happen.
What really caught my attention about both of these books is the fact that Ted is a main character and both authors do not shy away from talking about how his autism affects him (they keep it realistic but they do not go on about negative aspects instead they show copying mechanisms and positives). I did however find that in this story the autism was even more of a focus than the first, the writing did not seem as natural as the first. In the first story I felt like the author wove it into the story effortlessly whereas in this story I felt like it was a bit forced. But having said that I still really appreciate the fact that there is a second story out there that deals with this incredible character and his family. It is still a positive example of how a kid is coping with his autistic traits. It is honest and does not shy away from things like – when Ted gets very overwhelmed he does need to hit something or the fact that he hates change and spends his school holiday in New York wearing his school uniform because it gives him comfort to have something constant. There is also a small moment where is sister Kat confesses that it is hard being in Ted’s family because everything is about him coping and she often feels like she gets neglected as a result. Something which rang very true to me. There are so many moments throughout this story where I was nodding along going, yes that is a totally realistic reaction from an autistic kid, yes I understand why that character is doing that or saying that. When you are reading it you do get the feeling that the author understands autism and is trying very hard to explain it to the readers so that they can understand it better.
Even thought I felt it was not quite as good as the first (The London Eye Mystery) I still think this is powerful story because it deals with Ted and his family in a very real but ultimately positive manner and for me that makes it a story worth recommending.
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