Wild Orchid, and Waiting for No One – Autism Spectrum

I was delighted when my writing colleague  Beth Stilborn introduced me to Wild Orchid and Waiting for No One,  written by Beverley Brenna, a Canadian author.   Please check out the interview with Brenna on Beth’s site.  Brenna writes about an 18-year-old girl with Asperger’s Syndrome, who graduates from high school and begins  her journey into adulthood.    Since there is a large number of teens making this transition, Brenna’s books are very relevant and compelling reads for teenagers, parents, teachers and counselors.

In Wild Orchid, we meet Taylor Jane Simon as she graduates  and prepares to go with her mother to  Waskesiu, Saskatchewan for the summer, in Prince Albert National Park.    Taylor doesn’t like change, or her mother’s boyfriend, and is unhappy about the move.  Taylor’s teacher has encouraged her to keep a diary, so her story is written in first person.  Each chapter is a different length depending upon what Taylor has to say, or her mood.  Taylor’s  journal reveals her anger, disappointment, sadness, confusion, fear, anxiety, and courage to move forward.

Brenna really has a gift for getting into the mind of her complex character and showing how confusing life can be for someone with Asperger’s.  Taylor doesn’t like to make eye contact with people.  She finds social cues complicated and misreads responses from people.  Bright lights and noises bother her.  She hates the color yellow, and sneezes when she is near a yellow object.  She likes her daily routines and she counts everything in sevens.  She has meltdowns when she is overwhelmed.  She is intelligent and can quote facts verbatim.

Yet, Taylor perseveres and lands her first summer job in a nature center book store.   It is here that she begins to grow, discover independence, and gain self-confidence.   The summer in Waskesiu turns out to be good for Taylor and like any ordinary teenager she wants to make decisions about her future.   Taylor is very bright and has excellent verbal skills.  Taylor’s transition is a little more complicated since she falls under the autism spectrum, but her summer leaves the door open for hope for her future.

In Waiting for No One, Taylor has returned home from her summer in Waskesiu.  She has a new pet Gerbil, Harold Pinter, who plays a major role in her life.   She has plans and takes a biology class at a local university.  She rides her bike or takes the bus to class.    She participates in a dance class, travels alone by bus to visit her father in Cody, Wyoming for Thanksgiving, and looks for a job in a book store.

As her world becomes even more complex in this second book,  you find yourself cheering Taylor on as she steps outside of her comfort zone.   As a result, her obsessive-compulsive behavior becomes very apparent when she’s upset and feels out of control.  Swear words roll off her tongue at inappropriate moments, and add to the humor of Taylor.  Other issues of adulthood emerge.  She wants to become independent, when she feels there are others who want to hold her back.

Taylor meets a student in her class, Luke, and they become lab partners.   A real friendship develops between the two, and  Luke is very accepting of Taylor.  Luke invites her to his home to meet his brother, Martin , who has cerebral palsy.  Martin is unable to speak and uses an instrument on his computer to communicate.   Taylor sees Martin’s frustrations and she makes suggestions that are helpful for Martin, but upsetting to his father — more humor.  Taylor understands more than anyone how important it is for Martin to have rights and a voice.  Deep inside, Taylor wants to be seen as an individual and not as someone with a disability.   Some day she just might have that full-time job and an apartment of her own.

I was happy to learn that Beverley Brenna is writing a third novel about Taylor as she continues her path towards independence.

For more information on helping your teenager make the transition to adulthood, contact Austism Speaks  for their helpful  “Transition Tool Kit.”  Over one-half million children will make this transition, and they will want to have homes,  jobs and friends.   This is a societal issue.

About Patricia Tiltonhttps://childrensbooksheal.wordpress.comI want "Children's Books Heal" to be a resource for parents, grandparents, teachers and school counselors. My goal is to share books on a wide range of topics that have a healing impact on children who are facing challenges in their lives. If you are looking for good books on grief, autism, visual and hearing impairments, special needs, diversity, bullying, military families and social justice issues, you've come to the right place. I also share books that encourage art, imagination and creativity. I am always searching for those special gems to share with you. If you have a suggestion, please let me know.

15 thoughts on “Wild Orchid, and Waiting for No One – Autism Spectrum

  1. These are well written reviews Pat, I am sure Beth and Bev will be very pleased. I especially enjoyed Wild Orchid and know I will love Waiting for No One, when I get round to reading it. Bev is a master at getting into the mind of her character, which made Wild Orchid a very appealing read for me. Look forward to her new release in the near future to.
    Thanks for giving us such great insights into these books.


  2. Thank you so much for these glowing reviews of Bev’s books! As you know, it means a lot to me to bring these books to peoples’ attention. I’ve sent Bev a link to your post, and I know she’ll be delighted with it as well.

    Bev does indeed have an amazing way of getting into her character’s head and expressing the character’s feelings. By the time I come away from reading one of her books about Taylor, I feel as though I, too, am somewhere on the autism spectrum, Bev makes me identify so closely with Taylor’s thoughts and emotions.


    • Bev, I’m glad you liked the reviews, as I was a bit nervous about your response. I was over joyed to find books written about young adult women with Asperger’s eager to want the same independence that all teenagers want. I know what you mean, after idetifying so completely with Taylor’s thoughts and emotions, I felt somewhere on the spectrum. Taylor’s voice was very authentic and honest. Bev did a brilliant job having Taylor tell her story.


  3. Excellent, reviews, Pat. One thing I love about Bev’s craft in these two books is the lack of pathos. Tylor is a sympathetic character to the reader and we are indeed, cheering on her attempts towards independence. However, Bev also manages to portray her flaws in a way that is realistic but not repellant. The moments of humour bring great balance to these books. You are so right, Pat, we do get an idea of the true complexity of the spectrum.


    • Great comments Joanna– you said it so well! I loved the humor. The spectrum is so broad. And, it is so important that the young adults who are able strive towards independence. That’s why I’m so impressed with Autism Speaks. We know Taylor has AS, but in many ways her flaws and behavior was no different from any other teenager, just a little mre complex at times. And, Taylor wants to be seen as an individual, and not identifed as having a disbability. It will be interesting to see the coming of age of so many children — that’s why I like organizations like Autism Speaks, because they are trying to prepare parents to help their kids make that transition.


  4. These sound like timely books for all teens. My nephew has Asperger’s Syndrome and at twenty four still lives at home. He is able to hold down a small part time job however but it is real hard to hold a conversation with him as he has no interests apart from the computer games he plays.
    There books sound similar to Joni Picqolt’s book called “House Rules” about an Autistic teen.
    Thank you for introducing another author to the realms of writing that heals.


    • Thank you Clar for visiting my blog. I’m so glad that I was able to introduce you to another author writing about the autism spectrum. Beverley Brenna did an outstanding job of creating a very authentic voice for Taylor. I hope you read them! I have discovered that many people have a family member or know of someone with Asperger’s Syndrome or Autism. I read Picoult’s “House Rules”, and thought it was excellent.. Have you read “Marcelo in the Real World?” Another great read. I devoted the entire month of April to writing book reviews and blogs on the Autism Spectrum. I have a middle grade book on the subject I’ve reviewed for October, and will run during Autism Awareness Week. Hope your family is involved or knows of Autism Speaks. It’s a great organization with a lot of ways to connect.


    • Clar,
      Autism Speaks is listed at the bottom of my post. You only need to click on it. But, the web address is: http://www.autismspeaks.org/ Yes, it covers both disorders as they both fall under the spectrum. If you click on the Family Services above, you will see Tool Kits listed in the left bar — one for young adults transitioning into adulthood.



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