On Autism – A Review of Helen Hoang’s The Heart Principle

A close friend has told me how important it is to go through with the proper therapy and treatment, and how grateful she is to have that. She has really bad anxiety that is controlled with proper medication. I take it with a grain of salt, because I’ve never had any issues that required therapy; I listen. Apparently, she’s been going to therapy for the last 20+ years. Until recently. I had an episode – a possible anxiety attack. It was scary because I was in the shower and all of a sudden I had forgotten how to move my arms to continue washing my body. I walked out and felt extremely drunk and hungover, whereas just moments ago I was fine. The next day at work, I had trouble writing but slowly I’m getting better. Baby steps.

Enter Anna Sun, early-twenties (I think), a talented violinist made possible by a YouTube video gone viral. She mimics what society perceives as normal, always putting others happiness and needs before her own. She has a boyfriend, Julian who seemingly is perfect – does investment banking, parent approved. Except it’s not – after five years of being his girlfriend, he now wants an open relationship. She tells this to her therapist, Jennifer Aniston – nope, not that Jennifer Aniston – alongside with other problems. Like how she can’t finish the piece given to her by Max Richter – she gets stuck and has to start over, over and over and over again. How she still constantly seeks the approval of others without finding what or how to be happy herself. And now that her boyfriend of five years wants an open relationship so he can see what’s out there before he settles down. Jen Aniston also tells her that she came across a book about autism and suggested she read it – there were similar qualities that Anna resembles.

Devastated, she turned to online dating apps and matched with Quan Diep. A tatted up, dreamy looking guy. However, it wasn’t long before her dad fell ill; he had a stroke. Here we see why she’s always seeking approval and trying to make everyone around her happy. Unrealistic expectations and filial piety.

In Anna’s struggles – I can relate; but, I’m not autistic – I can handle it. Speaking up for yourself is frowned upon, that’s what separates the Asian culture and American culture I guess. At times I grew angry. Angry that Anna couldn’t stand up for herself and express her feelings. Angry that her family expected her to meet their expectations. Angry for so many reasons until I realized that she’s autistic and might have trouble expressing those feelings … then it made me sad. Sad that she’s trying so hard to be a good daughter and to meet each of those expectations, and nothing was ever enough. And during these rollercoaster of emotions, of stress, she has to help take care of her bedridden father.

What’s interesting is that in the author’s note, Hoang notes that this story is actually part memoir, part fiction. She dealt with her mom’s cancer and cared for her around the clock. She also grew up with autism which makes this a much more personal read.

Oh, and what about Quan? I guess you’ll just have to pick up a copy and find out for yourself 😉

I would love to hear your thoughts on the book! Enjoy!


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