It was the cover that caught my eye on Mademoiselle Caroline and Julie Dachez's graphic novel Invisible Differences, translated from French and now available in English for the first time. A lone figure, Marguerite, stares out from the cover, surrounded by the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Invisible Differences tells Marguerite's story, from working in an office completely oblivious to her needs, to receiving an Asperger's diagnosis in her late 20s, to living her best life and finding a fulfilling career.
Despite being an introvert, I am neurotypical yet I saw so much of myself in Marguerite. This is why books like Invisible Differences are so important because it enables us to reach a common ground where those who are neuroatypical can be accommodated and live in a world less full of overwhelming stimuli and ignorant interactions.
Invisible Differences is beautifully written, a semi-autobiographical account by YouTuber and activist Julie Dachez of the road she travelled and the liberating impact of the diagnosis on her life. Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the novel is learning how hard-won advancements in Asperger's Syndrome and autism awareness were in France, how common late-life (as opposed to early) diagnoses are, and how clinicians still doggedly insist on psychoanalytic treatment, despite autism being genetic not psychological in nature.
While set in France, this graphic novel has universal appeal and I would absolutely recommend this as an educational tool for both young adults and adults. Through Mademoiselle Caroline's superb graphics, we experience the difficulties and over-stimulation Marguerite experiences at work, the lack of empathy and understanding from her superiors, and the draining impact this has on Marguerite's life.
The section at the end of the story was especially helpful, containing notes on the history and facts of autism, the impacts and challenges facing those on the spectrum and tips for how workplaces can support Aspies and ensure they succeed.
Most importantly, Invisible Differences is a fun, heart-warming graphic novel where the heroine most definitely overcomes her limitations in the end and I thoroughly enjoyed both the story and the graphics.
★★★★★I received an electronic copy of this graphic novel from Netgalley. I will always provide an honest review, whether books are provided to me or purchased by me.