Disclosure: I have had a huge crush on Chris Packham ever since I first saw him present The Really Wild Show when I was a kid. I adored that show and adored him. And to discover that he was autistic made me so incredibly happy. So I was extra excited to read this memoir.
I read a comment on Twitter recently that autistic people cannot possibly write good memoirs as our lives are so boring. Chris Packham’s memoir shows that comment to be an utter lie. Because even though his story may seem boring to some (weird boy, who doesn’t talk much and gets bullied a lot, and spends a lot of time outdoors exploring wildlife, gets a bird. It dies. The end.) the way he writes is captivating. He really truly is a talented writer and could have a career as such if he ever gave up the TV work.
I did have one problem with this book. More of an issue with a literary device he uses than with any of his words. And it’s that some of the chapters are written in the third person. Not just the short chapters written in italics, describing his sessions with a therapist. I rather liked those. But other ones throughout the whole book. Often describing people who came in contact with him but also about him. He sometimes even refers to “Christopher” in those. And for me they ruin the flow, as I have to spend some time trying to figure out who they are about and what is going on. They are beautifully written, but I would have preferred if the book stuck to either that style, or the more “traditional” memoir-ish style of the other chapters, which are written in the first person. Instead it felt more like two books meshed into one. Others might not have any problem like this, and some might actually like it a lot, but it did make the book difficult to read for me.
I never normally do more than glance over the Acknowledgements at the end of books. But his were so well written I had to slow down and read them. Again, not a word out of place. Kept me entertained to the very end.