The White Bicycle – Autism Spectrum

The White Bicycle

Beverley Brenna, Author

Red Deer Press, Fiction, Oct. 30, 2012

Suitable for:  Ages 14-17

Themes:  Autism Spectrum, Adolescence, Independence, Journey

Synopsis:  Taylor Jane Simon, a 19-year-old girl with Asperger’s Syndrome, is back in the conclusion to Beverley Brenna’s Wild Orchid trilogy.   Although the books in the series are  stand-alone, each story features the spirited and strong-willed Taylor Jane.  In The White Bicycle,  Taylor travels to the South to the South of France with her mother, where she has a job as a “personal care assistant” for Martin Phoenix, a boy in a wheelchair  who is unable to speak without special equipment.  She has agreed to take the job because she wants to put in on her resume.   She cares for Martin, but her free time is spent traveling the French countryside on her white bicycle, trying to make sense of her past so that she can move forward in her life.  Along the way she meets an unlikely mentor who is somewhat of a mirror for Taylor.  Taylor  has one goal in mind — to become independent.

One of my favorite quotes in Taylor’s journal  is a conversation with her mother:  “There’s something I have been waiting for in order to be an adult.  It’s not having a boyfriend.  It’s not taking classes at the university.  It’s not getting a job.  I have done all of those things and I am going to keep doing them.  But they do not make me an adult.  I’m not waiting any longer Mom.  Because I know what I am waiting for.  I am waiting for you…to let me be free.” (p. 183)

Why I like this book/series:   First of all, the story is told in first person so that the reader has a front row seat into how Taylor thinks, feels and responds to the world.   The story is Taylor’s private daily journal.  Brenna has a gift of getting into the mind of her character so that the reader experiences Taylor.   Her characters are well-developed and you find yourself cheering for Taylor on her journey.  Secondly, this is the first series I have read where we actually follow a teenager with Asperger’s Syndrome, graduating from high school, going to college, getting a job, leaving her comfort zone and traveling to a foreign country, transitioning from adolescence to adulthood before our eyes and struggling to gain independence from her mother.  This is a typical response, but even more powerful from a young woman with Asperger’s.  With so many children in the Autism Spectrum who will be making this transition in coming years, the Wild Orchid trilogy this is an important story for families, teenagers and teachers.  I enjoyed watching Taylor’s steady growth and strong spirit in the series.

Another point of interest point is the beautiful cover art for The White Bicycle.  It was done by artist Taylor Crowe, who was diagnosed at a young age with autism.  His artistic talent was nurtured by family and therapists.  Today he lectures about autism to educators, behavioral therapists, and families — a real success story.

I was first introduced to Wild Orchid and Waiting for No One, by my writing colleague  Beth Stilborn , a cousin of the Canadian author.  You can read her interview with Brenna by clicking on Beth’s name.   You may read my earlier reviews of the first two books,  Wild Orchid and Waiting for No One by clicking on the books.  There also is an interview with Brenna at the end of the The White Bicycle.

Update:  Beverley Brenna was awarded the Printz Award on July 15, 2013 by the American Library Association for her novel, The White Bicycle.  The Printz Award is given for the “best book written for teens.”  Click on the Printz Award to see the article.

For more information on helping your teenager make the transition to adulthood, contact Austism Speaks  for their helpful  “Transition Tool Kit.”  Over one-half million children will make this transition from adolescence to adulthood, and they will want to be independent, have homes,  jobs and friends.  

About Patricia Tiltonhttps://childrensbooksheal.wordpress.comI want "Children's Books Heal" to be a resource for parents, grandparents, teachers and school counselors. My goal is to share books on a wide range of topics that have a healing impact on children who are facing challenges in their lives. If you are looking for good books on grief, autism, visual and hearing impairments, special needs, diversity, bullying, military families and social justice issues, you've come to the right place. I also share books that encourage art, imagination and creativity. I am always searching for those special gems to share with you. If you have a suggestion, please let me know.

29 thoughts on “The White Bicycle – Autism Spectrum

    • Genevieve, Beverley Brenna’s trilogy is a powerful. Although fiction, the author really is able to get into the mind of Taylor. I have loved this series since I read the first book. I’m pleased you’re going to recommend it.

  1. Thank you so much for reviewing The White Bicycle, Pat, and bringing it to people’s attention. Bev’s trilogy is so powerful and so “real” (as fiction can be very real, if well written) that I’m sure it will have a lasting impact both on those who deal with Asperger’s and autism, and those who seek to understand.

    I love a quote from the very first entry in the book — it speaks to us all, I believe, but with particular poignancy for a character like Taylor — “In life it is your dreams that take you forward and your dreams that make you human.”

    I will send the link to your review to Bev forthwith!

    • Beth, I was like a kid waiting for the final book to be written and released. And, it didn’t disappoint me. The ending is very satisfying. And, even though this is fiction, Bev’s ability to really understand Taylor and Asperger’s makes this book feel very real. I loved that quote you shared. I’m glad you liked the review.

  2. Thanks for your outstanding review, Pat! I am honoured that you have read all three books in my trilogy and that you have considered their content with such sensitivity.

    I’m especially happy that you commented on the cover art by Taylor Crowe. I met this artist at an event sponsored by the Council for Exceptional Children: Division of Autism and Developmental Disabilities, where he was a keynote speaker on the basis of his own experiences on the autism spectrum (http://taylorcrowe.com). It was certainly serendipity that we met, and that he was interested in the cover art project. He worked from a photograph taken of me during my trip to the south of France a couple of summers ago, where I went to research The White Bicycle, and I was delighted by Taylor Crowe’s work.

    • Bev, it was a pleasure to review your series. I think it is an important trilogy for parents and teachers because there will be so many autistic kids entering adulthood and wanting independence like Taylor. And, thank you for adding additional information about Taylor Crowe. I do love the cover, but knowing how you met is very special. Wishing you many book sales. – Pat

      • Thanks again for all your support, Pat! You are a great friend to my work! Thanks also to those who have commented on this site–such encouragement for me!

        I want to mention to everyone the work of Dr. Tony Attwood (http://www.tonyattwood.com.au) in case anyone wants to read more about Asperger’s Syndrome. This internationally known researcher has compiled a great many resources on his site, and I used some of his work when I was studying the gifts and challenges of autism. I really like his positive framework, and would recommend him as a first-stop for anyone wanting more information.

        Happy day!

      • Bev, it was such a joy to review your trilogy. You’ve written the only series like this and it is important for families and teachers. I hope I have been able to help put it out there for others to discover. I have many people reviewing my site for books on Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome daily — it’s the top search. And, thank you for the information about Dr. Attwood’s work. It is nice to have resources. Will check it out.

        By the way, I also fell in love with “Falling for Henry.” I still have a couple more of your books to read.

        Best wishes for the holidays!

  3. I am so happy to know the final one in this trilogy is out and, from your review, I sense I will not be disappointed in any way. Just love yours and Beth’s quotes from the book; i can’t wait to read this.

  4. Pat, wonderful review. I am looking forward to reading this trilogy. As a teacher, I worked with students with Asperger’s Syndrome. I will also recommend to my daughter, who is a teacher. Thank you for sharing your review.

  5. Pat, your wonderfully in-depth reviews and comments make me want to read this book – and the other two in the series. Writing is a talent that is buffed by learning how to do it well. But writing about such topics as asperger’s, in a way that is entertaining and gripping, goes far beyond the norm. Seems Beverly Brenna has this in spades. Congrats Beverly. Your series feels like a must read – and not only for those with asperger’s. They are going on my TO READ list.

    Books for Kids – Manuscript Critiques
    http://www.margotfinke.com

    • Margot, I am so happy you enjoyed the review and are interested in reading Beverley’s trilogy. I have looked forward to each novel. I’m sure she’ll be pleased with comments from a fellow YA author. This is such an important topic! Thanks for commenting. – Pat

  6. I just put this series on my wish list. From your review I am already curious to read this character’s story! Thanks Patricia!

  7. I’ve seen mention of this series on Beth’s blog, Pat, and they are on my to-read list. The concept is such an important one, and the books sound as though they’re very well written. Thanks for sharing this one!

    • Susanna, I hope you read them. It is a beautiful and sensitive series about a girl with Asperger’s coming of age and wanting independence. Her journey is remarkable. The White Bicycle was just released. I hope Beth does another interview with her cousin on the latest book.

  8. Pingback: Meet "My Autism Team" - My So-Called Geek Girl Life

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