The Original Ginny Moon is an emotionally engaging story of a fourteen-year-old girl with autism who is on her third “Forever Home” in five years. Her new forever parents thought they could not have children, adopted Ginny though they knew it would be a struggle because of her needs, and then became pregnant. Now, her Forever Mom avoids her, does not trust her with the child, and treats her as an alien, dangerous presence in the family. This is not helped by the fact she hit her plastic electronic doll eighty-three times.
Her relationship is further complicated because she is trying to get her abusive, neglectful drug addict biological mother to kidnap her. It seems her adoptive mother’s pregnancy has elevated her anxiety about her baby doll left behind with her mother. She has to, at all costs, get back with her biological mother and take care of her baby doll.
Ginny is a very logical girl bound by her own rules that she follows carefully. She will answer questions if asked one at a time. She will never lie. But that does not mean she will not deceive…she will just be silent or tell the truth obliquely, perhaps answering an unasked question. She has her blind spots and her obsessions, but she is smart in her own way, and very resourceful. By hook or by crook, Ginny Moon is going to be sure her baby doll is safe.
I liked Ginny and The Original Ginny Moon. I have a few problems, though. I was unhappy when it was mentioned that the Moons thought they could never have children and now, after adoption, were pregnant. It’s a myth that somehow after adoption, people are more likely to get pregnant. The author does not say that is what happened, but it’s a common belief because when people get pregnant after adopting, we hear about it. We don’t hear about the pregnancies that did not happen…so the myth persists. It also makes Maura, the adoptive mother, one of those small people whose love for their adopted child is supplanted, almost completely erased, by the birth of a biological child. It is heartbreaking for Ginny and again, another sadly common adoption trope.
Then I just naturally have qualms about stories featuring people with autism. Autism is like Tolstoy’s families–every person who is autistic is autistic in their own way. Yet, stories that feature people or children with autism seem to run to type: lacking attachment, mathematical, logical, logic-oriented, perseverating. I know these are common characteristics of people with autism, but because they seem to be the choices of writers most of the time, I think people get a limited sense of the difficulties of autistic children. This is not a particular criticism of this book. After all, Ginny is just one person and she is not going to have all the possible behaviors associated with autism, they are some of them contradictory. It’s a criticism of the genre as a while not providing a diverse enough portrayal of autism. After all, for all of Ginny’s difficulties, she is communicative and more or less compliant. She wants to be good, to do good.
And really, I am beyond irritated with the adults in this book. Most of Ginny’s intransigence and obsession are the result of adults not believing her. Then when they finally realize she is not being ridiculous and has a valid, critical cause for concern, when they realize that she has not made a logical connection, or more accurately, a progression in her understanding of reality, they decide to talk about it later. They think she can’t grasp the concept, but they only try to make her figure it out with hint, they don’t just tell her. And then there is Maura, the no longer Forever Mom, whose animosity toward Ginny is as off balance and disturbed as any behavior of Ginny’s.
I was going to rate this book as three stars, but realized that if the author was able to get me so very angry with Maura for her treatment of Ginny, it’s a better book than I realized. I really came to like Ginny and wanted so much more for her than she got.
The Original Ginny Moon will be released on May 2nd. I received a copy through a raffle from Shelf Awareness.