Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 12 to 17
- Grade: 8 to 12
- Reading age: 13 to 18
Growing up in the shadow of a famous mother, Clara has never felt good about her body. Now, at sixteen, she has an unhealthy obsession with healthy eating. After a social media disaster, she decides to escape for the summer to Paris to stay with her estranged dad and her six-year-old brother, Alastair, who is on the autism spectrum. Charged with his care, Clara and Alastair set out to explore the city. Paris, and a handsome young French baker, teaches Clara about first love, and a new love of food. And Alastair teachers Clara about patience, trust, and the beauty of loving without judgment.
About the author
Jennifer Gold is a lawyer and mother of two and the author of the YA novels Soldier Doll and Undiscovered Country. A history buff, she also has degrees in psychology, law, and public health. She lives with her family in Toronto.
- Commended, 2019 Outstanding Books for Young People with Disabilities – IBBY Canada
- Commended, 2019 Rainbow Book List
- Commended, 2018 (Spring) - Canadian Children's Book Centre's Best Books for Kids and Teens
Gold does a beautiful job of rendering the conversations between Clara and Alastair, and both characters are never so clearly defined and captivating as when they are with each other… Highly recommended.
CM: Canadian Review of Materials
A light examination of the intersection of two disabilities with family dynamics, with a sweet splash of page-turning melodrama.
This book includes some great descriptions of life in Paris as well as a European perspective on food and drink. It also addresses social media and the problems it can cause as well as eating disorders, autism, social hierarchies, and other current topics. High school students might become more understanding of the problems their classmates experience after reading On the Spectrum.
A light but poignant read.... Gold handles the topics of being on the autism spectrum and orthorexia nervosa competently and sensitively.
School Library Journal
Jennifer Gold's strong characterization brings to life these vibrant characters – from the depiction of women battling eating disorders to the struggles of a child who is deemed to be different from his peers...The Parisian setting is an excellent backdrop to the well-paced plot, making On the Spectrum difficult to put down.
Canadian Children's Book News
This novel addresses the role of peer pressure and of social media in a clear and authentic manner, with charming characters.
Well written with interesting views of Paris, Gold's novel will appeal to readers ages 12-17.
Winnipeg Free Press
A brisk pace and pervasive sense of hope and optimism propel Gold’s dreamy novel. The contrast between Clara’s sharp wit and Alastair’s matter-of-factness adds levity to a well-told and timely tale about love, patience, and acceptance.
"[Jennifer] Gold has captured the essence of what it means to be diagnosed with autism and what it means to live with someone who is. She also takes on the issues of eating disorders and body image. Her words about the cruelty of children toward anyone who is different in race, colour, appearance or behaviour should provoke readers to think about the impact their words and actions have on others."