Books : reviews

Donna Williams.
Nobody Nowhere: the remarkable autobiography of an autistic girl.
Jessica Kingsley. 1992

rating : 2.5 : great stuff
review : 29 March 2002

This is the deeply harrowing and utterly gripping autobiography of an undiagnosed autistic girl. Despite shocking abuse and neglect at the hands of her mother and others, despite her behaviour making many who knew her call her mad, nevertheless Donna Williams managed to rise above her troubles, get a degree, and even to break herself out of her mental prison to some extent. She wasn't diagnosed autistic until she was 25, and then only because she discovered the term herself.

The descriptions of how she feels, and interprets the world, are deeply fascinating. Equally fascinating is the way she tells her story. "Emotionless" isn't the right word, because there is obviously a great deal of feeling here. "Matter-of-fact" might be better. Considering some of the stories being told, this style actually adds to the feeling of horror at her situation.

Well worth reading if you are interested in different world perceptions, or simply in courage overcoming adversity.

Donna Williams.
Somebody Somewhere: breaking free from the world of autism.
Jessica Kingsley. 1994

rating : 2.5 : great stuff
review : 5 August 2002

A sequel to Nobody Nowhere, this continues Donna Williams' story of her courageous fight with her autism, and with other people's ignorance and hostility. Now adult, with a degree, and her first book about to be launched on the world, she is still deeply affected by her autism, and must teach herself how to relate to other people.

The tone is rather less "matter of fact" than previously, presumably reflecting Williams' growing connection with her emotions, and with the world. But it is just as deeply fascinating (if not quite so harrowing) as before.

Donna Williams.
Like Colour to the Blind: soul searching and soul finding.
Jessica Kingsley. 1999