This blog is now retired. My new site is at: Predictably Irrational.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger's by John Elder Robison

I wasn't sure about this book club choice. It didn't appeal to me but, this is why I am in book club so that I would be introduced to other genres. And I'm glad I read it.

John Elder Robision is the older brother of Augusten Burroughs, who wrote Running with Scissors. This is not a book I have read but it's now on my list.

Their upbringing is an interesting story in itself but to grow up with a syndrome that wasn't really known at the time, along with the turmoil of a dysfunctional family life, amazing that he has become successful in life.

Robison is funny throughout his recollection of his Asperger's and how he was treated, or how he viewed things.

I enjoyed his reading about his reasoning with regard to his "rude" behavior as a child. He took a truck from a playmate to show her the "right" way to play with a truck. In his mind, there was no other way to play with the truck except the way he knew how.

The title itself comes from one of the characteristics of Asperger's, which is not being able to look someone in the eye. And without knowledge of the syndrome, he was constantly getting into trouble by not looking at people in the eye and frustrating them, as they shook him and said "Look me in the eye!"

I was fascinated in how he learned to communicate and socialize 'normally' based on his observations of others over the years. He mentioned how people would say "Hello, how are you" and he would respond with something completely random, like 'I like bananas'. Adults would just smile; kids would call him nuts.

But over time, he noticed how people responded to certain questions and he then "learned" to respond in a similar way and prevent those "your nuts" type looks and/or commentary.

I cried at the end, as he wrote about his father and his dying days. His dad was not a great dad but amazing how Robison could find the happy memories of his father -- through his father's own memories -- after so many years of repressing them.

Definitely a great book...and I feel extremely lucky that I have had a luck of really good books read, one after the other.


  1. I recommend this book to anyone who loves someone with Asperger's. I agree, Cindy, that the book is a great read and very funny. Thanks for blogging about it.