Jay in the Journey by Hilary Hawkes
A short novel targeted towards preteens and young adults, Jay in the Journey tells the story of a young man named Jay who has a form of Autism called Asperger’s Syndrome. His condition makes it hard for him to socialize with other people, especially with his peers who are the same age as he is. When he and his father move to a new town and Jay has to start attending a new school, he is scared to interact with the new kids, afraid that no one will like him. However, he does make a friend in a girl named Abby. After his rough first day, he returns home and begins to play his favorite computer game, called ‘The Journey.’ Somehow, the monster game sucks Jay into it, and he finds that Abby has become a part of the game as well. They have to try to escape the game monsters, the Groundlings, and figure out a way to make it back to the real world. Through his adventures in the game, Jay finds a newfound confidence in himself that will help him maneuver through life in the real world.
This is an inventive and entertaining book that children and young adults will find to be an easy read. The fact that the main character has Asperger’s, a condition that not a lot of young people are aware of, is a nice touch, as readers can become familiar with what it means as they follow along with Jay on his journey. Kids understand how difficult and frustrating school can be, and if you are scared to share your time with others, the only real thing that makes school bearable, then you are bound for a rather poor time. The fantasy elements of Jay and Abby getting sucked into the game brings the story to another level, that will help balance some of the deeper themes involved. All in all, this is a stellar book.
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