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The Reason I Jump: one boy's voice from the silence of autism

Independent Booksellers Award, 2014

Paperback / ISBN-13: 9781529375701

Price: £9.99

The No. 1 Sunday Times and internationally bestselling account of life as a child with autism, now a documentary film Winner of Best Documentary and Best Sound in the British Independent Film Awards 2021.

‘It will stretch your vision of what it is to be human’ Andrew Solomon, The Times

What is it like to have autism? How can we know what a person – especially a child – with autism is thinking and feeling?

This groundbreaking book, written by Naoki Higashida when he was only thirteen, provides some answers. Severely autistic and non-verbal, Naoki learnt to communicate by using a ‘cardboard keyboard’ – and what he has to say gives a rare insight into an autistically-wired mind. He explains behaviour he’s aware can be baffling such as why he likes to jump and why some people with autism dislike being touched; he describes how he perceives and navigates the world, sharing his thoughts and feelings about time, life, beauty and nature; and he offers an unforgettable short story. Proving that people with autism do not lack imagination, humour or empathy, THE REASON I JUMP made a major impact on its publication in English. Widely praised, it was an immediate No. 1 Sunday Times bestseller as well as a New York Times bestseller and has since been published in over thirty languages.

In 2020, a documentary film based on the book received its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival. Directed by Jerry Rothwell, produced by Jeremy Dear, Stevie Lee and Al Morrow, and funded by Vulcan Productions and the British Film Institute, it won the festival’s Audience Award for World Cinema Documentary, then further awards at the Vancouver, Denver and Valladolid International Film Festivals before its global release in 2021.

The book includes eleven original illustrations inspired by Naoki’s words, by the artistic duo Kai and Sunny.

Reviews

This is a wonderful book. I defy anyone not to be captivated, charmed and uplifted by it. But above all, you will never feel the same about autism again.
John Preston, Evening Standard
This is a wonderful book. I defy anyone not to be captivated, charmed and uplifted by it. But above all, you will never feel the same about autism again.
Evening Standard
The freshness of voice coexists with so much wisdom . . . it will stretch your vision of what it is to be human.
The Times
The most remarkable book of the year. The book throws a pontoon bridge over the chasm dividing autistic and neuro-typical experience.
Charlotte Moore, Books of the Year 2013, Spectator
An extraordinary account of how autism feels from the inside.
Observer
Impossible to forget.
Ian Thomson, Books of the Year 2013, Evening Standard
The Reason I Jump reads effortlessly, each page challenging preconceptions that autistic people lack empathy, humour or imagination.
Independent on Sunday
A book that acts like a door to another logic, explaining why an autistic child might flap his hands in front of his face, disappear suddenly from home - or jump.
Neil Tweedie, Sunday Telegraph
A book that makes me want to say, "This is truly important, and anyone interested in autism should read it," is a rare find. The Reason I Jump achieves that status . . . [it] builds one of the strongest bridges yet constructed between the world of autism and the neurotypical world . . . There are many more questions I'd like to ask Naoki, but the first words I'd say to him are "thank you".
Charlotte Moore, Sunday Times
Every page dismantles another preconception about autism. Higashida's language is precise and has a poetic quality that elevates it far beyond a self-help book for the parents of autistic children. His fictional stories, also included in this book, vary in length from a few lines to dozens of pages and are united by their beautiful simplicity. They all share a strong single theme, namely, that even if living is different and difficult, you can still find companionship and happiness. Once you understand how Higashida managed to write this book, you lose your heart to him.
Caroline Crampton, New Statesman
We have our received ideas, we believe they correspond roughly to the way things are, then a book comes along that simply blows all this so-called knowledge out of the water. This is one of them . . . This book is an entry into another world. It was discovered by K.A. Yoshida, wife of the novelist David Mitchell, who gave us some memorable other worlds in Cloud Atlas . . . Naoki says he wants to be a writer when he grows up. David Mitchell points out that he already is one. This spectacular little book may or may not be the beginning of a prolific career, but it's a wholly realised work of art in itself, and its dignity and stoicism are sometimes almost unbearably moving. And no, he doesn't wish he was 'normal'. He says he is happy as he is, and I think I believe him.
Marcus Berkmann, Daily Mail
As much a winsome work of the imagination as it is a user's manual for parents, carers and teachers. In its quirky humour and courage, it resembles Albert Espinosa's Spanish bestseller, The Yellow World . . . This book gives us autism from the inside, as we have never seen it.
Independent
The freshness of voice coexists with so much wisdom . . . it will stretch your vision of what it is to be human.
Aw Solomon, The Times
The Reason I Jump reads effortlessly, each page challenging preconceptions that autistic people lack empathy, humour or imagination. Higashida's insights confirm some of my suspicions (perhaps the phrases that my sister repeats feel pleasurable, 'like a game of catch with a ball'), whilst challenging others . . . And raising new possibilities.
Independent on Sunday
The most remarkable book of the year was The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida. The book throws a pontoon bridge over the chasm dividing autistic and neuro-typical experience.
Charlotte Moore, <i>Spectator</i> Books of the Year
Written by an autistic Japanese boy when he was just 13, this remarkable book, which became a No. 1 Sunday Times bestseller earlier this year, offers an unparalleled view inside the closed world of childhood autism. Higashida's eye-opening answers to 58 questions - such as: "Why do you ask the same questions over and over?" or: "Why can you never stay still?" - are accompanied by a series of short tales, and an introduction from the novelist David Mitchell (who has an autistic son himself) that makes clear just how exceptional and rare this book is.
Andrew Holgate, Sunday Times
A remarkable memoir. A touching and fascinating guide to the tangled byways of his mind. Every page dismantles another of our preconceptions about autism.
Mail on Sunday
Revelatory
John Harris, Guardian