KIDS LIKE US
Until I was eight years old, I called myself ‘you’ because that’s what everyone else called me, and I called other people ‘I’ because that’s what they called themselves. Once I finally learned to read, I was mostly able to get it straight. Still, I can’t get them right when I’m nervous…
KIDS LIKE US is the story of Martin, a teenager on the autism spectrum, who falls for Gilberte-Alice, a ‘normal’ French girl. While spending summer in the French countryside with his mother, Martin mistakes Gilberte for a character in a novel he is obsessed with—Marcel Proust’s masterpiece In Search of Lost Time. He gradually realises she is not Gilberte, the fantasy girl, but a real person named Alice. Falling in love, in all its unpredictability, teaches Martin that he can in fact connect with others.
Perhaps the line between reality and imagination does not have to be fixed. Hilary Reyl’s writing is sharp, original and brimming with empathy and humour. For those who loved The Curious Incident of the Dog at the Nighttime, and Counting by 7’s.
PRAISE & REVIEWS
Sixteen-year-old Martin Dubois navigates family, friendships, and neurotypical attitudes in Reyl's teen romance. Spending the first half of the summer in France on location with his filmmaker mother and Stanford-bound sister is as thrilling as it is terrifying for Martin. The white, autistic teen's near fluency in French, his penchant for classic French cookery, and his complex affinity for Proust's In Search of Lost Time (or Search, as he calls it) ought to make the trip an exciting immersion. But they are not enough to drown out Martin's anxiety about attending a general education French high school (lycée), where his ways of interpreting and interacting with the physical and social worlds are sure to clash with others'. To his surprise, however, he makes friends with a few students rather quickly and finds referential roles for all of them in Search, including the potential for romance. But when it becomes clear that the other teens have only befriended him for his proximity to Hollywood stars, Martin begins to consider all the relationships in his life and what they mean to and for him. While Reyl hasn't broken the mold of autistic teen protagonists, Martin is a credit to the growing corpus, with multimodal idiosyncrasies that he builds on rather than buries and a validating first-person narrative and first romance. A charming debut.
"There has never been a romantic hero like Martin, but there has also never been a living, breathing, heart-breaking teen not like him. Whether tender and familiar or brilliant and disorienting, Kids Like Us weaves together a truly atypical love story—from pound cake and Proust, from autism and family dysfunction—but always with the rare, luminous humanity that makes a true teen anthem, another Fault in our Stars.”
— Melissa de la Cruz, NYT bestselling author of Blue Bloods and Witches of East End
"The most original voice since The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime tells the most radiantly human love story since Eleanor and Park. Reyl's extraordinary YA debut isn’t just a book you read; this is one of those rare books that reaches in deep and writes you back."
—Margaret Stohl, co-author of #1 NYT and international bestseller Beautiful Creatures
"Kids Like Us is a song in which, like life, both harmony and dissonance play their part. The writing is beautiful; the setting lush and evocative. I didn't want to leave Martin's world."
—Ally Condie, #1 NYT bestselling author of Matched and Summerlost