If you’ve followed me for any length of time, you know that books by neurodivergent authors, and especially ones featuring neurodivergent characters are very dear to my heart. So I was thrilled when I was offered a copy of Frankie’s World by Aoife Dooley for review – this middle grade graphic novel features an autistic main character who is trying to figure out why she isn’t quite like the other kids in her class, all the while trying to track down her dad with her friends.
Many thanks to Scholastic for sending me a review copy, all opinions are my own.
RELEASE DATE: 06/01/2022
STAR RATING: 4/5 ✶
SUMMARY: Twelve-year-old Frankie knows she’s not like anyone else in her class: she’s different, but she can’t quite figure out why. Is it the new freckle on her nose, or the fact she’s small for her age? Or that she has to go to the hospital sometimes? Everyone else seems to think she’s weird too, and they make fun of her at school. Frankie’s dad left when she was a baby – maybe he was different too? It would explain why she always feels like an alien. So she and her best friend, Sam, embark on a mission to track him down. (from Scholastic)
OPINIONS: Frankie’s World is a delightful middle grade graphic novel about the titular character’s journey of self-discovery and self-acceptance in two-tone shades of orange and blue. It is the sort of book I would recommend both to children struggling with fitting in, with finding their place in the world, but also to those who do tend to fit into the mold of social acceptance, who could perhaps do with a bit of understanding for those who don’t. Aoife Dooley tells Frankie’s story with compassion, influenced by her own experiences of growing up autistic and not knowing it until adulthood.
But this is also a story of family and of friendship. A central theme is that Frankie has never met her dad – while she has a wonderful stepfather, she is of course morbidly curious about her ‘real’ dad (who she suspects may be an alien, as he must be odd to have fathered her). With her best friend, Sam, and her new friend Rebecca, Frankie goes on a hunt – and does eventually track him down, to get some unexpected answers. The friendships between Frankie, Sam and Rebecca are lovely to see, and while all three girls are disabled in different ways, the story doesn’t show them to be limited in what they can achieve or want, which I really appreciated. Frankie’s World is just a really uplifting story about the value of acceptance, family and friendship, and one that I think is valuable for so many young readers.
I think having it in graphic novel format is particularly effective as it makes the story even more approachable for children who may be reluctant readers, who may struggle with focus (which is an issue for some neurodivergent children especially) or just appreciate the added visual element. All in all, this is a fabulous book that I highly recommend to anyone, and hope many families, libraries and schools pick up a copy as soon as it is out.