Vincent Stevens is no willing boomerang kid. Forced to return to his parents’ house in Suffolk when he is ‘let go’ from his high-flying job in the City, his whole life is on hold – flat, girlfriend, friends, expensive tastes – but he’ll find another high-earning job soon… won’t he?
His parents are clearly stick-in-the-Suffolk-muds. He can disregard their advice, and exorcate their tastes, can’t he? He definitely does not want to spend his Saturday evenings playing Scrabble with them and his friends, Simon and Liz Addington and Simon’s suggestion that Vince becomes a driving instructor is risible. However, he quickly becomes aware that his father is unwell, doesn’t want to worry his wife and needs Vince’s support. He’ll be back to London soon… although it is a bit worrying about his dad.
There’s no decent company in Suffolk, well, not of the sort Vince has become used to. He tried drinking with his old schoolfriend, Jimmy Hodges, but since when did Jimmy, who everybody used to be considered so cool, become such a yokel? Then there’s another old schoolmate, Sarah, who works in the library. Such a frump she’s become, in her old poncho. Nice dog, though. And how was it he came to be teaching Sarah to drive? She’s almost impossible to instruct, because she has this habit of taking everything he says literally. She has some strange friends, with whom she watches DVDs about The Highway Code; Vince feels he ought to keep a watch on these friends until one of them assaults him. Moreover, as Jimmy and his friend remember, Sarah has a habit of straight-talking, as refreshing as the cool Suffolk air and the wide East Anglian skies.
This is an informative and insightful novel about autism, everyday autism as it affects most everyday sufferers – and I should know, having taught many autistic and Asperger’s Syndrome students over twenty years. K A Hitchins wrote this book to raise money for The Mission Enfant Christ International which trains volunteers to work in a disability school in Togo, West Africa. She has donated all her royalties to The Mission.
The Girl at the End of the Road, the author’s first, published by Instant Apostle, is marketed as Christian novel. Like The Key to All Unknown, also by K A Hitchens, which I reviewed last month, the Christian content is understated, existing mostly in the mindset of the main character at the end of the book. I must say I enjoyed The Girl at the End of the Road better than The Key to All Unknown, as its setting and characters were more interesting and the setting more convivial than in The Key. However, I thoroughly recommend both.
I’m going to end by mentioning journalist, Peter Hitchens’ review of The Key to All Unknown in the Mail Online, at least what purported to be a review. He manages to fill most of his article, of about 200 words (I didn’t count), with a self-indulgent splurge about himself and how he and Kathryn have the same surname, mostly about himself though. It is unfair to reader and author alike.