600 Hours of Edward by Craig Lancaster

Books about Asperger’s Syndrome have been quite trendy for the last several years, so much so that they seem to have become a genre all of their own. I consistently fall into their trap. I promise myself that I will never read one again because they are all the same. And then I read another one, and inevitably, it is the same. But I still enjoyed it. Since they are so similar, it makes sense that I would either like or dislike them all.

Edward is a 39-year-old man who suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome and OCD. Living in a house owned by his parents, Edward lives each day the same way, until a single mother moves in across the street and changes Edward’s life. How original.

Edward certainly has its moments, but it suffers from one of the most common pitfalls of the Asperger’s genre: the idea that elements of the disorder can be miraculously cured by a woman. There are a few other factors that contribute to Edward’s sudden ability to change his routine, namely the death of his father. Nevertheless, within a mere 25 days, Edward is able to make huge strides for someone that has be crippled by routine for the past 38 years. But suddenly, Edward is able to miss an episode of Dragnet, or eat something different for dinner. This is similar to the trajectory of Graeme C. Simsion’s The Rosie Project, whose protagonist, like Edward, has a lifetime of symptoms alleviated when he starts falling for Rosie. It makes for a cutesy story, but it certainly diminishes how debilitating Asperger’s can actually be. I’m no scholar on the topic, but I’m pretty sure that the opposite sex is not a valid treatment option.

As with most of the other Asperger’s books I have read, 600 Hours of Edward is sweetly entertaining, but lacks any originality in terms of other works in the genre. I would like to say that this officially concludes my foray into the genre, but I will probably read Lancaster’s sequel. And Simsion’s. And next week I am reviewing – get ready for it – a book about a kid with Asperger’s.

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