Fourteen-year-old Nathaniel Clark lives in two worlds—the outside world of his family and friends and his own, special, inside Aspie world, where he’s not forced to interact with people or worry about wearing his clothes right-side out. The world where he can solve mathematical problems that elude even the brightest graduate students. The world where he feels he can find his own inner truth. People say he’s a genius, but Nathaniel thinks differently. According to a book he once read, a true genius uses his talent to make a contribution to the world. Nathaniel takes the definition literally, and begins his quest for genius status. "I will start, right after I wash the chocolate off my face. If I want to be seen as a genius, I should not look like an idiot." Nathaniel has a sky-high IQ and perfect SAT scores, but Jennifer Roy and her husband, Greg, have a remarkable 8-year-old son, Adam, who not only inspired the character of Nathaniel Clark, but also created the "Amazing Race" charts and the narrative at the back of MindBlind.
Nathaniel Clark, Genius
By Melissa on Dec 13, 2010
Mindblind's Nathaniel Clark has book smarts, and then some. He is profoundly gifted, storing his life experiences as a series of computer files in his mind. From the age of three, many of the adults in Nathaniel's life have labeled him a genius while some of his classmates preferred the term "retard." [Nathaniel lacks "common sense" and a grasp of lingual nuances. Roy utilizes this aspect of Aspergers as a tool to develop conflict, twists, and even a bit of comic relief.] At the age of fourteen, Jane-the-college-admissions-head declares that-- according to her definition of genius-- Nathaniel isn't one. The axiom he built his life upon is suddenly proven false. He sets out to fix his self-identity by becoming an official genius. Will he achieve his lofty goal? Nathaniel makes sense of his world through a series of math equations he builds to fit each situation he faces. ["N=m^1,000,000,000,000,000" is to say Nathaniel is mortified to the power of a quintillion.] While he has learned many skills with incredible ease, other things that come easily for average people, like making friends and carrying on conversations, are strenuous for Nathaniel. Social situations don't follow rigid mathematical ideals. Nathaniel loosely fits in with children his age. His best friend is Cooper, also 14. He accepts Nathaniel's quirks and acts as an option for Nathaniel to branch out and experience the rest of the world whether that was his intention or not. In Nathaniel's words, "Because of Cooper, [he has] had some semblance of a social life over the past decade. Not that [he'd] ever asked for one." Nathaniel enjoys some of the same activities as other boys his age, such as playing video games and being in a band. Still, he has to work hard at developing typical behaviors, such as "slacking skills." Though he clashes with some of the other characters in the book and manages to find some pretty serious trouble, Nathaniel manages to scrape by overall. As with many neurotypical teenage boys, a love-interest enters Nathaniel's life and promptly complicates it. Jessa adjusts Nathaniel's focus from strictly academic work to social agenda. Can a brilliantly smart young man step out of his own way to get the girl of his dreams? There are well-developed family dynamics in this book that cover a range of realistic possibilities likely to be experienced by a child with Aspergers. Nathaniel's mother, divorced, is supportive of Nathaniel's quirks, while his remarried piece-of-work father has no understanding or tolerance regarding Nathaniel's condition. His father has a young, typically-developing, much-favored son. Nathaniel feels that "Joshua Paul Clark is the son [his] father always wanted." It's sad that such a special child could be so rejected by his own parent. Nathaniel has recurring bowling meetups with an aspergerian girl. Molly is another well-developed character. Though they spend time together around a central activity and have similar diagnoses, they are clearly two very different people. Molly also serves to illustrate a casual relationship with Nathaniel compared to the one Jenna develops. Nathaniel and Molly never break through the associative layer to become true friends. As Nathaniel's relationship progresses with Jenna, he relies less on his math and more on what he's feeling. True to the age-old head vs. heart conflict, Nathaniel goes from one who greatly favors his head to one who gives his heart a chance. The protagonist of this book is a teenager, but I would recommend the book for middle-school-aged children to adults. [There are scenes of "partying" which are critical to the book's development, but may be too mature for younger children.] As an adult, I found this book to have a refreshing outlook for a character with aspergers. Lately, I have read several hopeless depictions of characters on the spectrum who are nothing more than a diagnostic shell with a few autistic clichés thrown on top. Thankfully, Roy has written a character who is humanized beyond the obvious issues people like Nathaniel face. Despite having numerous obstacles to overcome, Nathaniel's tone remains positive throughout the book and by the last page, it's easy to be happy with the way things turn out. If you are looking for a well-written tale about an incredible young man, read Mindblind.
Flawed- or not?
By Laurie A. Brown on Aug 25, 2011
Nathaniel Clark is fourteen and a college graduate taking a year off before graduate school. He has an off the charts IQ, taught himself Mandarin Chinese when he was four, and is on the `autistic end of Asperger's'. He spends a lot of time happily alone - he was home schooled - but has in the flesh friends. He's in a band. And he's trying to become a genius, because, despite his high IQ, he can't be a genius until he contributes something to society. This book takes him through some regular teenage things- first crush, a party he really shouldn't (and didn't want to be) be at, misunderstandings. There is no great plot, but he grows emotionally. I enjoyed the novel, but it has its flaws. The characters, except for his lout of a father (who doesn't believe in the existence of Asperger's syndrome) - who he thankfully only sees on weekends- are pretty perfect. They are totally supportive and accepting of Nathaniel's quirks. They seem to have no real lives or problems of their own, no development, but just exist as props in Nathaniel's life. His mother, who seems to have no emotions except for love for her son, is always there, never frustrated, never upset (except with her ex), and seems to exist for her son. She, like the friends, is perfect. I'm a little suspicious that the mother is a Mary Sue, the author having a son with Asperger's. I'm sure she hopes to be the good mother than Nathaniel's mother is; I'm also sure she hopes that her son's life is navigated as smoothly (for the most part) that Nathaniel's is; I hope so, too. Or perhaps this isn't a flaw; perhaps these people are so flat because Nathaniel, mindblind to others thoughts and emotions, sees them that way. There are some brilliant bits. Showing Nathaniel organizing his mind in the form of computer files is great, both in the idea and in the delivery. The part where he has an episode of mania is so well done that you feel manic yourself reading it; you don't really catch your breath until it winds down into hypomania and then finally normalcy. This is a book, I think, that would work well for tweens, but doesn't really hold up for adults (not that it's meant to).
Insight into Asperger's
By Kbg1966 on Oct 06, 2010
I found that MindBlind was a very interesting insight into the mind of a gifted person with Asperger's. Whether it's trying to solve a vastly complex math formula, or doing a report in Mandarin Chinese, Nathaniel is one very smart person. Granted the Asperger's makes him struggle in some situations, but Nathaniel has learned to adapt himself to whatever situation faced him. It seemed like that Nathaniel was put into even more of a tough situation with the parents being divorced. To me, the dad didn't seem to care that much about Nathaniel's condition and cared more about himself. I was very afraid for Nathaniel when he got put into that party situation with pot and alcohol. Thankfully, Nathaniel's friends managed to get him out of the bad situation, and tell his dad about it. Thankfully, Nathaniel had a mom who cared about him and understood the challenge in dealing with such a condition. She definitely wanted him to succeed in whatever he did. To have the bad situation turn into something good was remarkable when his release from the anger of the party made Nathaniel think about math and science songs, and to have the songs tie into the Bat Mitzvah with his band friends sort of put a wrap into the book, including him getting accepted into MIT. I'm glad that Jennifer has become a successful writer along with her twin Julia DeVillers. They seem to have a great passon for writing children's books and are able to share their musings to thousands of young people. I was glad that Jennifer used her own personal insight into Asperger's into writing a book that can help people young and old how not only one deals with Asperger's, but others around them.
Unrealistic & cheerleader-ish
By Bananakit on Feb 18, 2013
I don't want to be harsh, because the characters are actually all compelling and I read the book straight through (it's short). But at first the protagonist really does seems like he's an Aspie, but suddenly he is handling friendships, emotions, going to grad school, holding a job, etc. Um...OK? Still, an interesting look inside the world of Asperger's. The first half is good, downhill from there.
Nice intro to the World of Aspergers for Middle Schoolers
By Lucy on Dec 28, 2012
This would make a great classroom read for 7th or 8th graders. I think it would help non Aspies to understand a little about what goes on in the mind of a person with Aspergers. It would be a good way to open up a dialog about the different ways people cope with challenges. The format of the writing is different and also shows there are many ways to write a story.
By Katiejo on Dec 27, 2012
A thought-provoking glimpse into the world of Aspergers... from a personal and often humorous perspective. Kudos for a job well done!
By John on Dec 19, 2012
probably one of the best books ive ever read kinda short though read it in one day. roy has really established the charecters in the story
World's best book
By Jack Brown on Oct 14, 2013
I would rate this book a five out of five stars because not only did I enjoy it I could not put the book down for several hours straight.
By Mac on Oct 05, 2013
This is one of those extremely pleasant stories that doesn't happen enough in real life. I recommend this book to all.
Insight into asperger's syndrome ...
By Shirley A Cowles on Oct 02, 2013
Well written, fast-paced, solid insight into the day-to-day world of an adolescent with Asperger's Syndrome. Reader's will become immersed in Nathaniel's struggles with peers, parents, and his disability.