Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 394
Born on a Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant does not have any characters, per se, as it is an autobiography narrated by the British author Daniel Tammet. However, Tammet does write about some people who were significant in his life. Tammet is an autistic savant,...
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Born on a Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant does not have any characters, per se, as it is an autobiography narrated by the British author Daniel Tammet. However, Tammet does write about some people who were significant in his life. Tammet is an autistic savant, which means that while he has some cognitive disabilities, he also has some extraordinary abilities rarely found in the general public. Specifically, he has a condition called synesthesia, which enables him to associate colors, sizes, and textures to numbers and letters. This results in his brain being highly developed in areas that require attention to detail, calculation, and memorization but deficient in interacting appropriately with people and understanding emotion and relationships.
As a result, Tammet describes himself as being "in his own world" growing up. He is the oldest of nine children, but doesn't play with them very much, although he remembers enjoying when his brother, Lee, quizzes him on his quick mental multiplication or helps him collect strange things like acorns. He names a few "friends" from school, such as Rehan, who is also a social outcast. He also talks a lot about his parents and credits them for their patience and for nurturing his talents.
It isn't until he graduates and has the opportunity to volunteer abroad in Lithuania that he finally learns how to interact with people. He is there to teach English, but he finds that he has a gift for learning languages quickly and therefore is able to bond with the people in their native language. It is there that he makes some of his best friends, like an older, married woman named Birute, who accepts him for his differences. Most importantly, though, it is falling in love with his partner, Neil, that really shows him how to develop a deep and meaningful relationship with another person.
At the end of the novel, Tammet also writes fondly about meeting Kim Peek, the real-life savant who inspired the hit movie Rain Man. Peek travels the world making guest appearances and impressing people with his extraordinary ability to calculate and memorize numbers, dates, and facts, yet he is unable to live an independent life. It is Peek who makes Tammet appreciate their shared abilities and feel fortunate that unlike most savants, he is able to adapt and live a normal life.