A reader’s perspective on making our genre even more yummy with diversity.
I remember awhile ago (I’m trying not to date myself) a popular question to ask in reader’s groups on various social media platforms was this: What types of characters would you like to read about in LesFic? It’s a great question, in my opinion, because when reading a story, I usually connect with a character and then become invested in the story. Wouldn’t it make sense to have as many characteristics of the character I’m connecting with match my own characteristics? It’s worked! I’ve found more and more stories with characters that reflect different backgrounds, challenges, economic upbringings, careers; pretty much any type of “different” you want to read can be found in one of our LesFic stories! I’m going to focus on one characteristic though, autism. I’m not autistic and I really don’t have any experience working or engaging with someone who is on the autism spectrum, so most of my understanding is from media sources and from reading books. I’m not sure if that is a good thing or not, but it’s provided me with an introduction to new ideas at least, and for that I’m thankful.
I’ve very much enjoyed the writing collaboration of Saxon Bennett and Lacey Gardner- the humor that they inject while punching the reader in the heart with their stories. Heart to Heart is exactly one of those stories! The cast of characters ranging from a journalist, a carpenter, first responders and a bingo gang of very colorfully tongued retirees will definitely make you chuckle. However, what I really loved was how Bennett and Gardner presented the character of Parker. This is the first story that I remember reading where a character was presented as autistic and it impacted the story line. This is the first story in their Heart Series, and Parker continues to make an appearance throughout. So if you fall in love with Parker the way I did, just know you can get more of her as you continue through the series.
Initially I was a little peeved and annoyed with Max Saddler in Cara Malone’s The Rules of Love. She was almost too reserved and shy when first introduced in the story. However, as the reader gets to know her through Ruby’s eyes, Max’s Asperger’s is developed perfectly. The story continues with two additional installments and I think it was with Rules of Engagement that the reader is fully exposed to how challenging being on the autism spectrum can be, but again, I appreciated Malone’s attention to details with her character development. Again, being part of a series, the reader gets a lot of wonderful page time with Max and Ruby as they grow together.
A new to me author that I discovered when I won her audiobook, is Jax Meyer (recently mentioned in Danielle Zion’s post check it out here). Her story Dal Segno has so many wonderful components- age gap, older characters, and more, that any reader will find something to love about the story and the characters. What I appreciated was Meyer’s acknowledgment of her character Cam being on the autism spectrum. As an older individual, this characteristic created a different perspective for me as Cam voiced her preferred means of communication, shared her techniques for managing her increases with anxiety, and how she continues to learn about her abilities to adapt. That and it was all wrapped up with a Jazz accompaniment!
THIS MAY BE A SPOILER and if so please avert your eyes and just jump to the comments section! However, a new release by Harper Bliss has a wonderful slow burn romance between Anna and Zoe. That alone was a wonderful twist for me, but factor in that these two characters are on their second go around at love adds to the build-up. They are cautious and spend more time learning about each other which I loved! I also loved that one of the details that was discovered was a recent discovery of being on the autism spectrum. That would be a tough discovery regardless, but at the same time, would it be helpful to finally have a better understanding? This is the first in the trilogy and I am already looking forward to the second story!
I am sure that there are more amazing LesFic stories out there that feature autistic characters. What are some of your favorites? And are you finding that our authors are providing us readers with more diversity in character traits? I can’t wait to read your suggestions!