Review: Show Us Who You Are by Elle McNicoll

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Goodreads | Waterstones

When Cora’s brother drags her along to his boss’s house, she doesn’t expect to strike up a friendship with Adrien, son of the intimidating CEO of Pomegranate Technologies. As she becomes part of Adrien’s life, she is also drawn into the mysterious projects at Pomegranate. At first, she’s intrigued by them – Pomegranate is using AI to recreate real people in hologram form. As she digs deeper, however, she uncovers darker secrets… Cora knows she must unravel their plans, but can she fight to make her voice heard, whilst never losing sight of herself?

I knew this was going to be good because I’ve heard so many amazing things about it, but wow. What a book. What I didn’t expect was to be quite so blown away by this, or quite so reeling with emotion throughout and especially in the last 10 or 20 pages. I was not prepared for or expecting the emotional rollercoaster that this book is, and trust me Elle McNicoll does not hesitate to discuss some really deep and important issues.

Our main character, Cora, is neurodivergent and has autism. She quickly becomes friends with Adrien, who has ADHD. Their friendship was so real and heartwarming to read about, and I loved the portrayals of both of them individually and together. This book is own voices as I believe the author has autism themselves, and it makes the portrayal of Cora’s autism all the more authentic. Not only will this book be amazing for neurodivergent kids, who will finally see themselves on the pages, it will also hopefully serve as an educational tool for all children and help them understand their friends and classmates. Although I am not neurodivergent, I did see myself a lot throughout this book because of Adrien’s homeschooling. I was homeschooled myself, specifically because I struggled in school, and some of the comments made me feel seen in a way I never have before in relation to homeschooling.

I have every right to be here. As me. Exactly as I am. I might be different to you, I might be different to every person in this room, but you have no more of a right to exist than I do. 

What I expected from this book was two neurodivergent kids having Scooby-Doo style adventure. And while there are certainly aspects of this throughout, Show Us Who You Are runs so much deeper than I could have expected. It is such an important story that genuinely hit me hard in places and made me really emotional. Seeing Cora explore her own identity and grow in confidence throughout this book really warmed my heart. I rooted for her the whole way.

The characters were amazingly written and great to read about, some cleverly planned to be turned against you when you least expect it. Although I did guess one of the major plot points towards the end, a lot of this book left me reeling with the reveals. I loved the wider cast of characters, especially some of the more heartwarming parents and teachers. Cora’s situation as a child who has recently lost her mother not only allows for some amazing, heart-wrenching discussions about grief, but also single parent rep, which I found really important.

You don’t get to pick and choose which bits of me are fine. All of me is fine.

On top of all of the aspects of this book I adored is that the writing is truly excellent. This was so fast to read, and I read in a couple of sittings over 24 hours, but is also hard-hitting, beautiful and sometimes poetic. It is just perfect for this rollercoaster of a story. I’m so glad I picked it up and I can’t wait to recommend this to people around me, adults and children alike.

5 out of 5 stars


May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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