Loud and Clear - Aidan Wayne

This one hit too close to home.


“I spent my whole life being told I was stupid because I couldn’t talk well. They saw the disability, not me, but in the end I got past it. I hate that you never got past it.”

And this:

“Think about your accomplishments,” Caleb had said. “What you’ve been able to do despite not being able to read.”

No, I’m not dyslexic nor a stutter, but I felt so related to these words they were almost dedicated to me.

There was this psychologist in my school who manipulated my tests (you know, the typical intelligence/abilities/talents/whatever tests designed for kids) because he considered there was no way a person like me could get such positive results. It was simply coincidence. Chance. Pure good luck.


Then there was this teacher who said it was impossible to teach me English.


I’m not a resentful nor a vindictive person, so I’m not exactly seeing life past while thinking about these individuals or planning paybacks. But in moments like these, when I’m reminded of these little anecdotes or when I read books like this one, believe me, in moments like these, I sort of feel like punching their faces.

You know?

Sometimes I surrender to discouragement and think I’m stupid, and that everybody else is much more clever than me. That’s when my family begins saying how far I had gotten with my disability, and that I should for once start imagining all those people who seem so superior to me with the same handicap. Imagining if they would really be in the same place they are right now in such case. Perspective is not that easy to achieve.

It’s not easy to see that. In my lowest moments I can’t see it, I simply think myself stupid. It’s a situation I can’t exactly explain, I feel useless, undeserving, worthless, inferior.

Then I get past it and I cause trouble again. It’s not a conscious effort, I just do it. But I also know this inner strength doesn’t happen overnight. It requires years of practice, a lifetime, sometimes.

I usually acknowledge it from the very beginning so people can understand why I don’t follow conversations like everybody else does. But sometimes I’m tired of “coming out” again and again so I say nothing and I must say that way I’ve fooled too many people into thinking I’m “normal”. It's funny because it’s not “seen” but it can make my life difficult and kind of hellish. So people are surprised when I just do not fit in like expected.

My family once thought I would never be able to find my own feet and stand my ground. After some years, they realized I was going to show my middle finger more often than not. I hate fighting but I definitely don’t take bullshit from anybody, not in that. Not that I’ve found many people to dared to. To be such big assholes, I mean.

Being a cyborg is not easy, but I think I’m not so bad at it.

I felt a connection with these two characters beyond their disabilities. It’s like as if I already knew them. I’ve been in their place all my life, and they’ve been in mine. I felt their frustration, they shaky self-esteem and their longings to simply find some kind of leverage in all the mess social interactions require and all that this demanding world takes for granted from everybody, you be ready for it or not.

I hated Jaxon’s low self-esteem. No, that’s not right to say. I hated how people made Jaxon feel, how Jaxon has felt all his life because the people who were supposed to love and protect him obviously didn’t make a great of a job. He hasn’t built an armor, he hasn’t grown into accepting and loving himself as he should have. He has not found his feet yet, he has not really learnt how to value himself and God knows that’s not an easy process. It’s long, and hard and many times you can only think about giving up.

Why making an effort, if it will never be enough, if you will always be stupid?

I just wanted to hug him forever and tell him I wouldn’t let anybody else make him any harm. That I would teach him not to allow anybody to make him harm. That he had nothing to fear, because his disability is not the only thing that defines him, that he is much more than that. I wanted to accompany him, grab his hand and look at him in the eyes, to make him realize he can do it, that he will find himself along the way and since then on he would be indestructible.

But I have nothing to worry about, because Caleb fulfills this mission perfectly. Protects him, makes him see how awesome he truly is and doesn’t let him to add insult to his own injury.

They were extremely cute.

Basically, Tuesdays were the worst. Though, not completely the worst, Caleb figured, as he clambered inside the cab again, adjusting his suit jacket as he sat down. His driver was cute and didn’t stick his nose in Caleb’s business – he just drove. He was the best cab driver ever. Caleb wished he could actually say it.

Jaxon is dyslexic and the person he begins to like a way too much has a hard time with words pronounced out loud, so he basically talks via ASL or writing. Irony of life. Soon they find ways to communicate trying to make things easier for each other. Learning, researching, with all the patience in the world. Simply fabulous.

Smiles were not scarce here, in fact it was very difficult for me not to smile. It’s a short book with only three characters: the MCs and Jaxon’s sister, the one that “translates” the words Jaxon can’t read…

“Tati, calm down, it’s fine. I’m actually with Caleb right now.”

A pause. “You are?”

“You’re interrupting our date.”

“I am?” she squeaked.

But it was solid and neat. Simple but effective.

***Copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.***