Rating: High Five!
Who I'd Recommend to: Fans of Ida B., anything by Katherine Applegate, Kira-Kira, Be Light Like a Bird, Wonder, and other inspiring stories.
Synopsis (from Amazon):
Heidi’s brother, Donald, is 16 and Autistic. She has always loved playing with him, but now she's 11 and her life is changing. She’s embarrassed to have her brother around and doesn’t want her friends to know about him. High school boys bully him. When the kids at her school find out about him, she gets bullied too. It’s not fair. No one seems to understand. But Heidi needs to understand too. She can't change her brother, but she can change how she feels about him, and she can get people to see why her brother is special.
When Driver offered NO ONE NEEDED TO KNOW to me to review, she explained to me that this story was based on her own childhood experiences. That's part of the reason I had such high expectations - I usually expect an author who can relate so easily to their own main character to be able to write a better story because of it. I'm pleased to say that my assumptions were correct - Heidi is a stellar main character. She's relatable, likable, and flawed, but in the type of way that makes the story seem more real, which is exactly the type of thing I like seeing in novels like this. A huge problem I always have with realistic fiction novels is that they have a cliche happy ending, with everything tied up in a neat bow - something that isn't very realistic. What was so memorable and touching about NO ONE NEEDED TO KNOW was, in fact, the ending, part of why I enjoyed this book so much. I would definitely recommend this book to teachers and students alike (as well as literally everyone else on the face of this planet), since it promotes activism and empathy, two characteristics that Heidi strongly displays in this book. The great thing, though, is that Heidi isn't necessarily this way right from the start - as a reader, I loved seeing her evolve from a rather insecure girl who can't really stick up for herself or her autistic brother, to a strong-willed, caring girl who makes for a perfect role model. And although this story was short, Driver got her point across easily with great writing that made the story flow nicely from start to finish. There was never a dull moment, which I loved.
All in all, a fantastic book that I highly recommend to literally everyone, no matter who you are!
Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest, unbiased review. All thoughts are my own.