Book: The Boy Who Fell to Earth by Kathy Lette

By admin
15 June 2012

Rating: 4/5

Lucy is the frazzled single mom of an autistic boy, Merlin. She harbours deep resentment towards his father who left them soon after Merlin’s birth when he realised his son wasn’t quite what he’d expected.

Diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome (a type of high-functioning autism), he’s both eccentrically adorable and extraordinary.

But not everybody sees him that way and his inability to censor his utterances on everything from girls’ genitalia to the “mating habits” of his mom seriously hamper Lucy’s dating attempts.

In fact one dose of Merlin usually sends any man running, except for Archie, an ageing rocker from Down Under who creeps into Merlin’s heart and also into Lucy’s.

But then Merlin’s smooth-talking politician father shows up on their doorstep, begging forgiveness and a second chance. What’s Lucy to do?

Kathy Lette deals with a serious subject in her trademark offhand way. At times Lucy comes across as almost too flippant in the way she handles her son’s condition but you soon realise her sarcastic one-liners are just a defence against vulnerability and a world that doesn’t understand her complicated son.

The no-holds-barred writing might not suit more sensitive readers but I found the book funny, heartbreaking and wise. It also gave me insight into a medical condition I knew little about.

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