I read this book in one night! I couldn't put it down. I highly recommend it for: young people, especially those on the autism spectrum, those who know someone on the autism spectrum, those who are bullied (for any reason), bullies, recovering bullies, teachers, parents....okay, pretty much everybody.
Delightfully Different is a great example of using fiction to tell the truth. In the same way that historical fiction can be effectively used to teach history, I would use this work of fiction to teach young people about Asperger's Syndrome, and the autism spectrum in general. I would put it alongside The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (by Mark Haddon) and House Rules (by Jodi Picoult) as a starter kit for those who are trying to understand a loved one or student who is on the autism spectrum. It's also a well-told story that's enjoyable to read.
I particularly appreciated the story of the well-meaning guidance counselor who told Mia (the main character with Asperger's Syndrome, who was the target of bullies) that she should just try harder to fit in, to dress differently, to be more pleasing. It's like telling someone if they could just be taller, or become fluent in a foreign language overnight, that life would go so much better. While that may be technically true, it's not helpful and utterly misses the point.
I really connected with Mia, the main character. I know that girl. I WAS that girl. While reading this book, I realized why I used to line up all of my stuffed animals Just So, and why a couple of my kids do that now.
I didn't totally connect with the plot device of having the protagonist (Mia) speaking from heaven before her birth about how she chose her mom, and her perfect recall of her infancy and toddlerhood, but then again, a photographic memory isn't uncommon for people on the autism spectrum. In any event, it didn't detract from my overall appreciation for this book, and others may like it very much. Author D.S. Walker should be thanked for sharing two great perspectives on Asperger's Syndrome: that of a mother and that of her very brave daughter.
I also appreciated the author's fearless and honest treatment of the family problems that can be caused by geographic, generational and cultural differences, and special needs, and how love shines through all of it. She also touched on the strain that can be put on a marriage when the parents have widely differing perspectives a child's challenges.
In the Epilogue, the author hints at a sequel; I look forward to seeing it.
I give Delightfully Different five stars because it's a lovely story, well told, and a book that everyone would benefit from reading.