Kristen Arnett’s Latest Subjects Are the Lesbian Parents of an Autistic-Coded Son

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By Naoise Dolan

WITH TEETH
By Kristen Arnett

He’s only a kid, but Samson is already burdened with a troublesome family member: His mother, Sammie, suffers from being on the non-autistic spectrum. He cannot meet her support needs for platitudes and eye contact, and so he is challenged by her difficult behavior. Samson’s own neurotype is unnamed but heavily autistic-coded: He has sensory issues with food, textures, touch; he doesn’t easily intuit neurotypical social norms; he rarely smiles, as far as his mother can perceive (though we must make allowances for her impairments). That mother, Sammie, grew up closeted, with conservative parents, and is now raising Samson with her wife, Monika. Kristen Arnett’s second novel, “With Teeth,” is mostly about Sammie.

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