Book Review: Are You Seeing Me? by Darren Groth

22231820Twins Justine and Perry are about to embark on the road trip of a lifetime in the Pacific Northwest.

It’s been a year since they watched their dad lose his battle with cancer. Now, at only nineteen, Justine is the sole carer for her disabled brother. But with Perry having been accepted into an assisted-living residence, their reliance on each other is set to shift. Before they go their separate ways, they’re seeking to create the perfect memory.

For Perry, the trip is a glorious celebration of his favourite things: mythical sea monsters, Jackie Chan movies and the study of earthquakes.

For Justine, it’s a chance to reconcile the decision to ‘free’ her twin, to see who she is without her boyfriend, Marc – and to offer their mother the chance to atone for past wrongs.

But the instability that has shaped their lives will not subside, and the seismic event that Perry forewarned threatens to reduce their worlds to rubble…(synopsis from Goodreads)

I received this as an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 9/10

Overall Impression: A very touching story about the love between two siblings.

Recommend for: Anyone who loves reading stories about family and sibling relationships.

This book made me smile, cry, and sometimes both at the same time. There were quite a few things that this book did really well and there were times when I couldn’t help but admire the skill Groth has with making these characters really relatable. The relationship between these siblings is very touching and makes me think about the close relationship I have with my brother. Even if your sibling doesn’t have the disability that Perry has in this book, I believe that many older siblings can relate to the desire to protect and take care of their younger sibling. There were times that their relationship felt so realistic that it brought me to tears.

However, the most impressive thing about this book was how skillfully Groth wrote in Perry’s point of view. Perry is autistic, a view point that can be incredibly difficult to write in, but I believe Groth handled it really well. Perry had his own distinct voice that really helped the reader to kind of understand how Perry sees the world. There were times when Perry would imagine these dramatic things happening, and at first you think that they are actually happening until you realize that nobody is reacting to it and that Perry is imagining these things. He is such an unreliable narrator that you have to work to distinguish between what is really happening and what Perry is imagining.

The best part is that these moments don’t happen abruptly and instead occur gradually so you are halfway through the imagined scenario before you realize that it’s not actually happening. This puts us in the uncomfortable position of having to distinguish between reality and fantasy. Something that Perry has to go through everyday of his life. It acts as a way of putting the reader in Perry’s shoes and showing us how Perry sees the world. It’s highly effective and well done.

I highly recommend this book. Darren Groth has written a very emotional and relatable story. He’s brought a very important narrative to the forefront. One that paints mental disability not as a handicap that a family must endure, but rather a further reason to love and adore those with these disabilities. As something that actually brings them closer as a family rather than pulling them apart. It’s amazing to finally read a narrative with this message. I’m planning on reading more from this author and look forward to seeing what he does next.


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