Book Review: Teeny Little Grief Machines by Linda Oatman High

Amazon.com: Teeny Little Grief Machines (Gravel Road) (9781622508839):  Linda Oatman High: Books

Title: Teeny Little Grief Machines

Author: Linda Oatman High

Genre: YA Realistic Fiction/Books in Verse

Number of Pages: 243

Rating: D

Recommended?: No


Warning- the provocative title and cover art are the only good things about this book. I read this for the autism rep and I figured out pretty early on that there essentially was none. The main character, Lexi, is full of angst and struggles with a ‘crazy’ family including a Bipolar stepmom, a dad with BPD, and an autistic stepbrother. These diagnoses obviously only exist to make Lexi’s life seem extra hard, because there’s no detail put into any of them. The step-brother is described as ‘chasing her around with a knife’ early on because apparently, people with autism and ADHD are vicious maniacs.

Her dad’s ‘BPD’ is reduced to him being sent to jail for driving drunk. Guess what, a lot of people drive drunk and I’m pretty sure most of them don’t have BPD. The step-mother allegedly has anorexia, but the book doesn’t explore her disordered eating or how it affects Lexi beyond the surface diagnosis. Also, why is her eight-year-old stepbrother verbal yet he’s still regularly soiling his diaper? Again, no explanation given. It’s all ‘boo-hoo poor Lexi’ for being the only sane one in her family.

Lexi’s voice felt puerile to me- for a ‘aspiring poet’ with alleged potential she sounded like she was about twelve years old. I never connected with her character at all or cared about what happened to her. She expresses love for her stepbrother after he briefly goes missing but we don’t get any sense of a change in their relationship. He’s pretty much depicted as her cross to bear (along with the rest of the family) and I hate when characters on the spectrum are used this way. I can’t believe I actually spent money on this book.

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