3 out of 4 stars
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The Place of Knowledge is written by Phillip Alan Shalka, a 15-year old nonverbal, autistic young man. This book is a work of fiction that tells the story of Phillip and Sabre's,Phillip's assistance dog, adventures to a place on the other side of a trap door, at the bottom of a pool. When Phillip and Sabre visit this place they find peace, happiness, knowledge, and warmth. This city is perfect in the eyes of both Phillip and Sabre and full of captivating conversations with Aristotle, which happens to be Phillip's role model. Sabre sits and listens to the conversations between Phillip and Aristotle each time they travel to this wonderful place, and each time they leave they are filled with a calming presence within them.
This book is filled with wisdom beyond the years of a 15-year old boy. Phillip has a uniqueness that he uses to understand that people think and react differently than not only himself, but from everyone else as well. He sees the reality of his real world versus the imaginary world he travels to with his partner, and wishes that his way of thinking and doing things was as accepted in the real world as it is in his imaginary world with Aristotle. The story is told from Sabre's point of view as he listens in on the conversations and explores their favorite place to be.
Although Sabre narrates the story, he does not have many contributions. This option still worked, in my opinion, because it adds a level of friendship and love for, and towards Phillip that made the story more comforting. Throughout the book the reader can sense that Phillip feels alone in the real world and welcome in this imaginary world, and the constant between the two is Sabre. The reader gets to see Phillip's heart through the telling of this story, and it all ties together nicely to know that Sabre is alongside him in its entirety and can be the ears that listen and the eyes that understand when Phillip feels no one else does besides Aristotle.
Sabre tells Phillip within the story how perfect this magnificent place is for Phillip, and allows the reader to feel the excitement both characters feel when they choose to travel there. Through this story I found myself coming face to face with the realization that people with autism, or eccentric people are trying to connect with others with little success. I thoroughly enjoyed the many life quotes throughout this book and found I was fulfilled and sappy when the end came.
There was nothing within the pages of this strong, short-story that I found and disliked. The messages behind the words are powerful and meaningful, and I feel like this could be used as a tool to bridge the gap between what is and what is not when it pertains to people who have autism.
My favorite part about this book were the different philosophical quotes and Phillip's attitude towards life and knowledge in general. He opens the door to show readers of this book that everyone is just trying to understand everyone, and that although Phillip has autism, he desires to seek out knowledge near and far and wants to be valued as the deep thinker he is. I would recommend this short-story to anyone that has interest in autism, readers that are young and old alike, and others that have impairments. I feel that Phillip made this relate-able to people in general and leaves a feeling of happiness and hope for the reader as the story concludes. I found few errors throughout this book, and with how much wisdom fills the pages I feel compelled to rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. I think that undergoing a revision to add more expressions to Sabre to indicate he is a dog, Phillip to indicate he is a teenage, and some older Greek diction for Aristotle could make it a perfect 4.
That Place of Knowledge
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