I don’t think I have ever read a book about suffering from ADHD. If I have, it didn’t leave much of a mark on me. With her new book, Focused, Alyson Gerber opens a window in the world of a teenager dealing with ADHD.
Clea has undiagnosed ADHD. That is obvious from the first few pages of the book. Alyson Gerber managed to capture how Clea was feeling – the frustration and the belief that she was stupid and lazy, yet the inability to make changes. The only thing that she feels she can focus on is chess, but if she doesn’t keep her grades up, she can’t be on the team. Everyone around her, parents and friends, keeps telling her that she just has to try harder, but why is that so hard? Alyson Gerber really managed to capture how Clea felt and how she would often say or do things that she really didn’t want to do. It’s not until her teachers get together, talk, and bring up the idea that she might have ADHD to her parents that anyone brings that into the picture. When she finally goes for a diagnoses and things get explained to her by a doctor who truly listens and doesn’t talk down to her, there is a sense of relief.
There are many who say that we over-classify people with ADHD, but this book did a really great job of explaining that there are many different ways someone can struggle with the disorder. There are also different solutions for everyone, but having a plan and a sense that there are people on your side can make all a huge amount of difference. Clea has to learn not be embarrassed by her diagnosis and that asking for what she needs – a quiet room to take a test, a seat away from all of the noises around her – can make all of the difference. We are also reminded that she is just a 12 year old kid (one of the hardest ages ever!) and friendships are changing and that kids can be cruel to each other.
Focused is a great book for everyone! People who know someone with ADHD, those with it, and frankly, anyone who might come across someone with ADHD or who just needs a work around sometimes. Non-visible illnesses are the hardest to deal with and many people often view them as made up. It was great to get to feel this from Clea’s point of view. While she starts off not believing in herself, in the end, we see how strong, brave, and smart she truly is.