A story never before told and a memoir to help change our understanding of the world around us, 13-year-old Naoki Higashida's astonishing, empathetic book takes us into the mind of a boy with severe autism. With an introduction by David Mitchell, author of the global phenomenon, Cloud Atlas, and translated by his wife, KA Yoshida.
Naoki Higashida was only a middle-schooler when he began to write The Reason I Jump. Autistic and with very low verbal fluency, Naoki used an alphabet grid to painstakingly spell out his answers to the questions he imagines others most often wonder about him: why do you talk so loud? Is it true you hate being touched? Would you like to be normal? The result is an inspiring, attitude-transforming book that will be embraced by anyone interested in understanding their fellow human beings, and by parents, caregivers, teachers, and friends of autistic children. Naoki examines issues as diverse and complex as self-harm, perceptions of time and beauty, and the challenges of communication, and in doing so, discredits the popular belief that autistic people are anti-social loners who lack empathy.
This book is mesmerizing proof that inside an autistic body is a mind as subtle, curious, and caring as anyone else's.
The internationally bestselling account of life as an autistic child. 'Brilliant ... both moving and strangely optimistic' - Ray Connolly, Daily Telegraph.
Shortlisted for Independent Booksellers' Week Book of the Year Award: Adults' Book of the Year 2014.
A book that acts like a door to another logic, explaining why an autistic child might flap his hands in front of his face, disappear suddenly from home - or jump. -- Neil Tweedie Sunday Telegraph A book that makes me want to say, "This is truly important, and anyone interested in autism should read it," is a rare find. The Reason I Jump achieves that status ... [it] builds one of the strongest bridges yet constructed between the world of autism and the neurotypical world ... There are many more questions I'd like to ask Naoki, but the first words I'd say to him are "thank you". -- Charlotte Moore The Sunday Times Every page dismantles another preconception about autism. Higashida's language is precise and has a poetic quality that elevates it far beyond a self-help book for the parents of autistic children. His fictional stories, also included in this book, vary in length from a few lines to dozens of pages and are united by their beautiful simplicity. They all share a strong single theme, namely, that even if living is different and difficult, you can still find companionship and happiness. Once you understand how Higashida managed to write this book, you lose your heart to him. -- Caroline Crampton New Statesman This is a wonderful book. I defy anyone not to be captivated, charmed and uplifted by it. But above all, you will never feel the same about autism again. -- John Preston Evening Standard We have our received ideas, we believe they correspond roughly to the way things are, then a book comes along that simply blows all this so-called knowledge out of the water. This is one of them ... This book is an entry into another world. It was discovered by K.A. Yoshida, wife of the novelist David Mitchell, who gave us some memorable other worlds in Cloud Atlas ... Naoki says he wants to be a writer when he grows up. David Mitchell points out that he already is one. This spectacular little book may or may not be the beginning of a prolific career, but it's a wholly realised work of art in itself, and its dignity and stoicism are sometimes almost unbearably moving. And no, he doesn't wish he was 'normal'. He says he is happy as he is, and I think I believe him. -- Marcus Berkmann Daily Mail As much a winsome work of the imagination as it is a user's manual for parents, carers and teachers. In its quirky humour and courage, it resembles Albert Espinosa's Spanish bestseller, The Yellow World ... This book gives us autism from the inside, as we have never seen it. Independent The freshness of voice coexists with so much wisdom ... it will stretch your vision of what it is to be human. -- Andrew Solomon The Times The Reason I Jump reads effortlessly, each page challenging preconceptions that autistic people lack empathy, humour or imagination. Higashida's insights confirm some of my suspicions (perhaps the phrases that my sister repeats feel pleasurable, 'like a game of catch with a ball'), whilst challenging others ... And raising new possibilities. Independent on Sunday The most remarkable book of the year was The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida. The book throws a pontoon bridge over the chasm dividing autistic and neuro-typical experience. -- Charlotte Moore Spectator Books of the Year 2013 Written by an autistic Japanese boy when he was just 13, this remarkable book, which became a No. 1 Sunday Times bestseller earlier this year, offers an unparalleled view inside the closed world of childhood autism. Higashida's eye-opening answers to 58 questions - such as: "Why do you ask the same questions over and over?" or: "Why can you never stay still?" - are accompanied by a series of short tales, and an introduction from the novelist David Mitchell (who has an autistic son himself) that makes clear just how exceptional and rare this book is. -- Andrew Holgate Sunday Times An extraordinary account of how autism feels from the inside Observer A remarkable memoir. A touching and fascinating guide to the tangled byways of his mind. Every page dismantles another of our preconceptions about autism. Mail on Sunday [The Reason I Jump] has been impossible to forget. -- Ian Thomson Evening Standard Books of the Year 2013
Naoki Higashida was born in Kimitsu, Japan in 1992. He was diagnosed with severe autism in 1998 and subsequently attended a school for students with special needs, then (by correspondence) Atmark Cosmopolitan High School, graduating in 2011. Having learnt to use a method of communication based on an alphabet grid, Naoki wrote The Reason I Jump when he was thirteen and it was published in Japan in 2007. He has published several books since, from autobiographical accounts about living with autism to fairy tales, poems and illustrated books, and writes a regular blog. Despite his communication challenges, he also gives presentations about life on the autistic spectrum throughout Japan and works to raise awareness about autism. In 2011 he appeared in director Gerry Wurzburg's documentary on the subject, Wretches & Jabberers.