by Laura Guthrie

Published by Cranachan

WHEN I first saw this book there was one thing that really stood out to me and made me want to read it: the cover. There’s something particularly important about a cover that can not only look great on a bookshelf, but intrigue and provide a hint to what may be found on the pages.

I was particularly attracted by the image of the rainbow with the title against a simplistic blue background. It really conveys a sense of hope. Rainbows signify that the rain is over, a comforting thought to remind people going through a difficult time that something beautiful will follow.

But there’s something unusual about the rainbow on this cover. The drops of rain falling suggests that beauty can also be found at a time of darkness, a message that is echoed throughout the book.

Anna is a 13-year-old girl with Asperger’s whose father has recently died. Of the options available it’s decided it’s best she is sent to from London to Scotland to live with her mother.

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The first problem with this plan is that Anna does not remember her mother and the second problem with this is Anna’s mother confuses the dates and forgets to pick her daughter up from the bus station.

This sorry situation introduces Anna’s ever-positive attitude which came about through the extensive help she received from her father and support workers.

Among her most important coping mechanisms is a game to try to stay happy. Whatever the circumstances she uses it to concentrate whatever there is to smile about whenever she can.

When her mother doesn’t turn up a kind stranger she met on the bus helps her to find a taxi. When she eventually meets her mother it’s not immediately the kind of reception she had hoped for.

Her mother seems to be still in shock over recent events and comes over as cold. The relationship between them soon becomes a central part of the story as both adjust to a new way of life.

As well as grieving her father’s death, Anna must develop a new relationship with her mother and find a way to feel at home in an environment that’s unfamiliar to her.

Anna struggles and often finds it difficult to play her happy game but she’s a character with such strength and resilience that you know she’ll be OK.

I found Anna’s difficulty understanding just how to act with other people and her methodical approach to adopting a positive mindset an authentic representation of autism. Everyone’s experiences differ but it was wonderful to find things to relate to. I think this is one of the things that truly helped to develop the key theme of hope in this novel, not only for Anna but for a better understanding of young girls with autism.

There are many things to love about Anna, the character and the book. Both are sweet, honest and heartwarming.