Sixth grade, with its changing social dynamics is hard. It’s especially hard for Heidi whose 16 year old brother Donald is autistic and is bullied by the other kids at his high school. When Heidi’s friends learn about Donald, she also becomes a target of ridicule. This loosely autobiographical story follows Heidi as she comes to understand her brother while learning to navigate the social mine field of sixth grade.
No One Needed to Know is geared toward third to sixth graders. It tells a more nuanced story than is normally written for that age group, making it less appropriate for precocious readers and a good choice for below level middle school students. Adults who remember reading books by Katherine Patterson and Paula Danziger will recognize the honesty with which it is written.
When I started this book I felt it was dated. The casual abuse of people with disabilities is no longer acceptable as it once was. Halfway through I changed my mind. All young people deal with bullying, whether or not it is directed at them. No One Needed to Know beautifully tells a story of how one girl learns to balance a complex situation at home with a complex situation at school. It shows how we well-meaning adults can make things harder when we are trying to help. There is a full cast of complex human beings and so the author can side with all the kids, even the mean ones. They are all trying to find their way. In the end some of them do.
This book can be purchased through Amazon by clicking on its image.