Book #4: Navigating Early


Another book I finished while on vacation was Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool. This children’s book tells the story of Jack, a boy from Kansas plopped into a boys’ boarding school in Maine after the death of his mother. Feeling out of place in his new home, Jack befriends Early, another boy on the perimeter of the school’s society. Early doesn’t interact with people like others, listens to certain music on certain days, and reads the number pi as a story about a boy named Pi. And Early is in distress because Pi has gone missing. Thrown together by their loneliness, the boys embark on a quest in the Appalachian woods to find Pi. Vanderpool has crafted an excellent story about friendship and acceptance. While autism is not a major focus of the novel, she does write Early as a character on the autism spectrum. I appreciate that the book is not about autism, but happens to have a character with autism. This would be a great book for other children on the spectrum that struggle to find characters in fiction with whom they can relate. But regardless, it is just a fantastic story for any child or adult that helps us see that those a bit different from us are just as valuable and worth knowing as anyone else.

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