I received a free copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
Star Rating: ★✰✰✰✰
Three people living in the same building but barely knowing of each other’s existence. Karen is a doctor and researcher, doing a study on the rising rates of autism. Tam has just lost his job as a policeman and now spends his days between takeaway containers and whiskey bottles. Nick is trying to live independently with his Asperger’s but has to deal with visits from his grandfather disrupting his routine.
But these three lives become intertwined when Karen tries to get Nick a job in her hospital and Tam’s inner-policeman is awakened with an unsolved murder in a nearby park.
Told from all three perspectives, The Man On The Middle Floor attempts to look at how society sees and treats people with autism. At least, that’s what I think it was trying to do. It’s difficult to know exactly what the point of this book is. In all honesty, I don’t know much about autism, but I do know that autistic people can get a bad rep, and this book does nothing to hinder that point of view.
Nick is one of the most unsympathetic characters I’ve ever read. He has all of the qualities that people use against autistic people, such as complete lack of empathy towards people and animals (the bit with the cat is completely unnecessary). Not all autistic people are like this!
Karen’s study, looking at proving that autistic people can function normally in the workplace, could have been a great way to go against these stereotypes, but Nick’s character traits mean this falls through as well. It’s all kind of a giant mess.
Karen is one giant stereotype herself. She personifies the stereotype of women not being able to have a job and a family. She’s divorced and sees her own kids as more of a chore that takes away time from her job. She basically kidnaps her own son because she thinks it will help her research, instead of doing what’s best for him and leaving him with his sister. She doesn’t report Nick’s seriously inappropriate behaviour in the morgue because she knows it will make her research look bad.
She’s just a terrible person overall. The opinion that women can’t have a successful job and be a mother is so prevalent and, in my opinion, a character like this is just dangerous because she does nothing to dispel this ridiculous opinion.
Even Tam is a stereotype of a man. He’s attracted to every single girl he meets throughout the book and is proud of himself for not acting on his attraction to Nick’s mother, even though it would have been ridiculously unprofessional of him to do so. Not being inappropriate at work is not something to be proud of, it’s just called being a decent human being.
I didn’t hate this book when I finished it, I just disliked it a little bit, but the more I thought about it afterwards the angrier I got about it. I don’t normally like to say just negative things about a book, but the characters in this book just make me so mad that I don’t feel like looking for something good to say.