April 01, 2015

Fragile Bones: Harrison & Anna

by Lorna Schultz Nicholson
Clockwise Press
217 pp.
Ages 13+
March 15, 2015

When the Best Buddies Program, a world-wide organization that aims to help individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities integrate successfully into their communities, comes to his high school, fifteen-year-old Harrison Henry is instructed by his mother and encouraged by his older brother Joel to attend.  A high-functioning autistic, Harrison has OCD tendencies and a relentless focus on bones and diseases, making him the target of ignorant classmates.  But his partnering with Anna Leonard, a high-achieving senior who hopes to beef up her resumé for university (and med school) as well as become better acquainted with the Best Buddies chapter president and new student Justin, presents Harrison with a plethora of new opportunities, some welcome.

Fragile Bones is a lot about learning to deal, with others, with one's family, with one's own needs and wants.  Anna is a considerate young woman who is astute about interacting with Harrison, though even she has much to learn.  Harrison, who needs many reminders about appropriate responses and actions, is doing his fair share of learning, though he doesn't always interpret new information correctly, occasionally too literally. (Harrison's thoughts about kissing and a Halloween dance are especially ardent and very funny.) Anna and Harrison may be very different, as are Justin and Alan and other minor characters in Fragile Bones, but Lorna Schultz Nicholson ensures that they are all normal, just unique, and acceptance of these differences is the norm.

Lorna Schultz Nicholson's Fragile Bones: Harrison & Anna is an auspicious premiere for Clockwise Press and its One-2-One series, and I wouldn't expect anything less from Christie Harkin and Solange Messier.  I think they're well on their way to meeting their mandate "to publish high-quality young adult and children’s books featuring themes of diversity and global awareness" (Clockwise Press, March 16, 2015) Congratulations to Clockwise Press and Lorna Schultz Nicholson on Fragile Bones' positive contribution to youngCanLit and its furthering the building of supportive communities. Well done.

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