Fall Down Seven Times, Get Up Eight by Naoki Higashida

Review published on July 1, 2017.

This book can almost be seen as a follow up to The Reason I Jump, Higashida’s book of thoughts and ideas of a life he can only take part in and understand within boundaries, his unique perspective being that of someone who is essentially nearly entirely non-verbal through being on the autistic spectrum, who can look into the neurotypical world and comment on how people live. As an older person, this carries on common themes, but with the eyes of more experience, understanding, and the feedback from one bestselling publication.

As someone diagnosed with autism too, I was expecting to have a lot in common with the perspectives and daily challenges. I started reading and immediately felt sad that we didn’t have much common ground. However, soon I overcame this; it’s true that gender has a big impact on presentation of autism, as well as how everyone with the diagnosis has a different expression of the disorder. His life is very different to mine and I found I could empathise and learn from his short prose. When I reached the section ‘Handle With Care’, which focuses on the meltdowns, anxiety and sadness that comes from being unable to connect with most other people, I really felt we were together fighting our corner. I went from not being able to relate to totally establishing a connection.

I loved his poems, which slip in between the chapters; they’re very concise and to the point, one or two really spoke to me. I also had a lot of time for his arguments about looking at people with autism as being different in ways that can help society and not always seeing it as a disability. Along with his passionate arguments for the rights of disabled people and messages of persistence when dealing with all other people, by the end I was with him and won over by his ideas and writing style.

It’s difficult for me to suggest how this book might be helpful to people with autism spectrum disorder and those who love or care for someone who does, as I think every case will get a different thing out of it. I can only say that it will help, and you will gain access to things you never before considered and open a window onto how people think. Read as a text without autism coming into it, it’s well written and the translation is excellent, as well as being very compassionate and kind to humanity. The introduction by bestselling author David Mitchell sums these points up nicely. So overall this book is a winner, whichever aspect of its content happens to grab you individually.

Helen Corton 3/4

Fall Down Seven Times, Get Up Eight by Naoki Higashida
Sceptre 9781444799088 hbk Jul 2017

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