Boomer and Me: A Memoir of Motherhood and Asperger’s

Jo Case

Boomer and Me: A Memoir of Motherhood and Asperger's
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Boomer and Me: A Memoir of Motherhood and Asperger’s

Jo Case

Leo is having trouble fitting in. Whether it’s pulling his pants down in the schoolyard or compulsively saluting Mazdas because the company sponsors his football team, Leo can never seem to say or do the right thing. And Jo is struggling to help him find his place as she juggles work and the ordinary demands of motherhood. But her beloved only child has been reading novels since he started school, amazes strangers with his encyclopaedic knowledge of sport statistics, and displays a wit sharp beyond his years - could he be gifted? In fact, it turns out Leo has Asperger’s Syndrome.

This is the bittersweet, blackly funny story of a boy and his very twenty-first-century family, and why being different isn’t a disability - it just takes a bit of getting used to. Reflection reveals that Asperger’s traits run in Leo’s family; which prompts Jo to ponder the line between passion and obsession and ask the question: what the hell is ‘normal’ anyway?

Review

When Leo starts school, his mum starts to notice little things that make him stand out. His first teacher calls him gifted; his reading and verbal skills are very advanced. But, as time goes on, other things that once may have been just eccentricities begin to take on a different shade. Leo becomes obsessed with things – football, Bionicles – and his friendships are few and fiery. In the playground, he alternates between being the victim and the aggressor as he becomes fixated on winning, bursting into tears when he doesn’t. The school suggests that he be tested – perhaps he is too advanced and getting frustrated? The results reveal that Leo has Asperger’s, a form of autism.

For Leo’s mum, Jo, the diagnosis is devastating and brings into question many of the things she believed in. She agonises over what caused Leo’s condition, seeing in her father, her brother and herself the same signs. In this compelling and inspiring memoir, Jo recounts her fight to help Leo become a secure and confident child, and her own struggle with her own condition. It’s raw and personal, revealing and very brave. Every setback becomes a crisis of confidence and brings waves of self-doubt. But, somehow, the crises are worked through, and Leo and Jo and the people they love come to terms with their lives.

Boomer & Me is beautifully written with great gentleness and humour. The people in Case’s life spring from the page – real, frail and strong. They are a very contemporary family with a myriad of complicated relationships. In the end, you hope that Jo, Boomer and his dad and stepdad will do okay.

As Jo reflects, ‘Crisis, resolution, calm, and all over again. That’s life isn’t it? … with Asperger’s it’s just more intense.’


Mark Rubbo is the Managing Director of Readings

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