There Are Things I Know

There Are Things I Know

Karen B. Golightly

Eight-year-old Pepper, a child with Autism, is kidnapped on a school trip. The man who takes him claims to be his Uncle Dan, but Pepper has never met him before…

There are things I know, things I remember, and things that other people tell me.

There Are Things I Know is a captivating story told through the eyes of Pepper, an eight-year-old boy who is on the autistic spectrum. Written in the past tense, Pepper recounts the events that took place during a period where he was the victim of a kidnapping. The story is crafted with Pepper’s language in mind, making the experience of reading this novella much like being given first-hand insights from a child of Pepper’s age and mental capabilities.

One thing Pepper knows is numbers. He excels at mathematics, and this becomes his main strength when he becomes separated from his mother. Golightly has dedicated passages to help us as readers understand how Pepper’s mind functions: how he strings together numbers and how he perceives different environments – becoming accustom to them by finding a feature to count, whether it be tiles or lights. Although the subject matter, a kidnapping, is typically a topic of the thriller genre, Pepper’s perception of this event isn’t one caked in fear. In fact, although treated as strange, the events of the book have a slightly light-hearted feel, making it a novella that is suitable for both younger and older audiences.

Did you find it insightful when Pepper describes his associations with people and places? Did they give you a better understanding of his mindset?

Little of Uncle Dan’s past is revealed through the book. How did he come to know Pepper? Do you think it was a case of random kidnapping or had Pepper been targeted for some time?

Why do you think Dan is violent at first but doesn’t resort to violence in the rest of the book? Do you think he has seen the error of his ways?

Did you pick up on any signs of autism from reading the book?

Discuss the character of Dan. Do you think that he is a bad character or just in unfortunate circumstances?

Do you think Uncle Dan feels some guilt for taking Pepper away, especially given his own past?

How do you think Pepper feels about his family dynamic? Do you think he feels in the shadow of his siblings?

There is no mention of Pepper’s father in the book. Why do you think this is?


Pepper is eventually informed by a classmate that his mother’s phone number requires an area code – a set of numbers that varies from state to state. Pepper is eventually told the code and given the name of the town where he is being held. He is able to call his Mom and later police arrive at Uncle Dan’s house. Pepper initially hides in the cupboard, not knowing who has arrived and feeling scared. He eventually hears his mother’s voice and rushes after her to be reunited. Although happy he is back with his Mom, Pepper feels sorry for Uncle Dan and wonders what has happened to him.

Karen B. Golightly is an Associate Professor of English.

She was inspired to write the story when her own son, who has autism, went on a school field trip and she became worried about what could happen.

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The echoes of Meon Hill still linger in this post, which is entirely apt for a bittersweet little novella, that stays with you once the pages end. Once read, never forgotten- even if it moves aside for other incoming stories. Anyway today’s post comes from #EveshamAbbey which has its own resonating link with that grim hilltop, we have been considering in microscopic detail. One that involves the devil being so infuriated with the construction of the Abbey that he chucked a giant clod of earth through the air at it. A praying bishop conveniently thwarted this evil plan, resulting in the formation of Meon Hill. In all its fantastical glory, I can’t help wondering if some other more ancient tale has been culturally appropriated by the Church, here (as happens so often with ancient festivals and lore- getting a new spin more fitting to the new ways being presented). In terms of this gripping little #novella from @fairlightbooks – this one sitting read about a boy with autism trying to make sense of his new circumstances and to find his way back to his Mum, has surprising depth within the simplistic narrative structure it employs to deliver its story. #TheseAreTheThingsIKnow reminds us how much of the information we process creates our reality- and in this way shows us how our realities can be different because of our perspective. It’s all about how we see things. Kind of fitting right? #folklore #locallore #meonhill #bookstagram #bookworm #booknerd #booksaremagic #booksarecool #booktography #booksinthewild #booksoutdoors #bibliophile #newangles

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