Top critical review
Blatant Ableism and Purity Culture Skew
Reviewed in the United States on August 26, 2020
I generally like Karen Kingsbury, and I appreciate that her books are clean. That said, I’ve worked with autistic kids for years, and her portrayal of Holden is extremely disturbing to me. The phrase, “Prison of autism” is used countless times, and the overall message about people with autism is that they are “locked in,” they need to be pitied, and, if possible, rescued by non-disabled individuals. She even used the phrase, “His class of disadvantaged kids,” as if it were interchangeable with, “His special ed class.” WHAT? I understand that this book was written ten years ago, but this is a blatant misportrayal of autism that is ableist at its core. If you don’t know enough about something, don’t write about it!
Secondly, I’m greatly concerned about how another character in the story is construed after she becomes pregnant out of wedlock. Even after repenting and turning back to God, her own father thinks about how sad it is that she will never be “innocent” again. This is NOT the gospel message. I know that Kingsbury’s writing is rooted in 90s purity culture, but imagine a young teen girl who was molested as a child reading this. She will believe that she is somehow less-than in the family of God because she is no longer “innocent.” I believe that this is against the gospel message because we are rescued from sin and justified through Christ. He makes you whole again! You are NOT less-than or less “innocent” once you have the Spirit of God in you, regardless of anything you did in the past or anything that was done TO YOU in the past. To say otherwise is contrary to what Jesus himself says about you as a saved child of God.
I’m disappointed in this book!