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March 1st, 2016

Debut Novel Tackles Autism and End-of-Life Issues

Girl at the End of the Road

Must we always view Autism in a negative light?

How might a woman make the most of their life while living with Asperger’s Syndrome?

In her debut novel, Kathryn Hitchins, addresses these questions through the eyes of high-flying financier Vincent Stevens who has lost everything in the economic crash.

He wants his extravagant city life back at any cost, but discovering the woman he loves is on the autistic spectrum, forces him to make the biggest decision of his life. 

Will he return to a world defined by winners and losers, or will he choose love?

Around 700,000 people in the UK have Autism according to the National Autistic Society. At one end of the spectrum Asperger’s Syndrome is often referred to as ‘high functioning’ or ‘mild’ autism. However, it can cause immense difficulties because of the anxiety and sensory overload that social situations create.

Far more boys than girls are diagnosed with autism. Is this because more boys are born with the condition or is it because girls present differently and often go under the radar? Based on her experience of knowing girls and women on the autistic spectrum, Kathryn dispels some of the myths surrounding women with Aspergers and gives a more positive perspective on the condition.

Kathryn writes: ‘In my first novel I wanted to write a romance which wove together plot lines involving care for the elderly, end-of-life issues and Autism. I developed a male narrator, Vincent Stevens, a victim of the financial crash, who sees life only in terms of appearance, achievements and possessions. Spending time with his elderly grandmother and a strange woman from his past forces him to reassess what is important in life. Throughout the book he grapples with his ego, his sense of loss and finally learns to accept the people he loves and accept himself for who he is’.

Tackling very topical social issues, this novel will be of interest to anyone currently facing them or who anticipates having to deal with them in the future. More broadly it is an educational tool on the nature of Aspergers and should help to shape a more positive perception of this disorder.

Michele Guinness, author of Archbishop, says: ‘This is a wonderful first book from Kathryn – touching, poignant, inspiring and beautifully written. I was captivated from the start’.

In The Girl at the End of the Road, city broker, Vincent Stevens finds himself moving back home and living with his parents in the dreary Suffolk village of his birth.

He has lost everything in the financial crisis – job, flat, gym membership and glamorous girlfriend. He wants his old life back, but first must disentangle himself from family commitments and ignore those nagging doubts about his consumerist values.

Battling rejection and despair, he reconnects with the local Library Assistant, Sarah Penny, the eccentric truth-teller he once had a crush on as a boy. Sarah is a refreshing opposite of the status-seeking women Vincent found attractive in London.

Sarah admits she has Asperger’s Syndrome.  Stunned, Vincent agonises whether to walk away or throw caution to the wind and love her anyway. Deciding the latter, Sarah insists she would be sacrificing more than him in any relationship, comparing her introversion and honesty with his materialism and lack of integrity.

Eventually his journey of self-discovery is over and a relationship with Sarah is now possible. A new world of opportunity beckons.

About the author

Kathryn Hitchins studied English, Religious Studies and Philosophy at Lancaster University, graduating with a BA (Hons) First Class in English, later obtaining a Masters in Postmodern Literatures in English from Birkbeck College, London. Girl at the end of the Road is her debut novel. She has completed three others and is writing her fourth. She is married with two children.

Girl at the End of the Road (ISBN: 978-1-909728-39-4) by Kathryn Hitchins is published by Instant Apostle and is available on 24th March 2016 from Christian bookshops, bookstores and online. Fiction, paperback, 281pp, £9.99.

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