How do you take a story about a girl with autism and make it relatable, heartwarming and funny? Well, Benjamin Ludwig sure knows the secret formula. In his first novel, his protagonist, Ginny Moon, is just a normal teenage girl who plays the flute in the school band, enjoys basketball and studies Robert Frost poems for English class. She also currently lives in her Forever Home with her Forever Mom and Forever Dad. If you didn’t quite glean from the latter statement, Ginny is an adopted child. Her Forever Parents are great and love her very much, but Ginny longs to return to her drug addict birth mother, Gloria, and take care of her Baby Doll.
So, she plans her own kidnapping. And if anyone can pull it off, it's this smart resourceful girl with a heart of gold. While kidnapping is not the savviest of solutions, Ginny's reasoning is so compelling that we are willing to take a backseat on her journey, although our hearts desperately ache for her to see reason.
I had mixed feelings about reading this book. I used to work as a behavior therapist with autistic kids, and am well versed with some of the challenges families face. With Benjamin Ludwig's Ginny Moon, I was expecting a sad, sappy, emotional rollercoaster ride, but the approachable novel written with a unique voice turned out to be quite the opposite.
I loved how Benjamin Ludwig got into Ginny’s head, writing with a voice that is genuine, authentic and captivating. There is a backstory here. Benjamin Ludwig and his wife actually adopted a girl with autism. And he sure got it right. The tone. The determined focus. The analytical mind, trying to grapple with reason. Made me teary eyed thinking about the kids that I once worked with many moons ago. Memories of the kids trying their own antics to get out of therapy and using their wits to outsmart.
As a reader, once you come to terms with Ginny's motivations, you do not hesitate to continue on this crazy journey with her, hoping she will come to terms with her emotions and make the right decision…knowing ultimately that it has to come from her.
A great book for teachers to incorporate into their curriculum.