The book The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang is about Stella Lane, a woman diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome who understands the world through algorithms and math. Stella’s struggles to comprehend dating push her to hire an escort, Michael Phan. As Michael and Stella work through her dating lesson plan she begins to fall in love with him.
Although her love for romance novels inspired Hoang to write The Kiss Quotient, writing soon became a way for her to understand her own autism diagnosis, according to NBC News. Hoang gave Stella some characteristics that mirrored Hoang herself. “I gave her my mannerisms, my tendency to be logical and literal, and my social anxiety”, she told NBC News.
Stella has characteristics, such as social awkwardness, repetitive motions, routines, and all-consuming interests, that Hoang had trouble understanding and accepting of herself, reports Goodreads.
One of my biggest struggles has always been self-acceptance. I used to put a lot of effort into changing myself to please people, and that worked—I was able to develop relationships of a sort. But they exhausted me, and as a result, they frequently ended in failure. In order to have real relationships, I needed to feel safe being who I am. In other words, I had to learn trust and self-acceptance”, says Hoang tells Goodreads.
According to Goodreads, Hoang, who was diagnosed with autism later in life, was still learning about her diagnosis through research and therapy. As Hoang’s understanding of her diagnosis improved, Stella’s character became more relatable to women with autism.
“I congratulate the author for accurately and creatively illuminating Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD); which is oftentimes little known of, or misunderstood; and, because her literary work seems to expertly portray the inextricably linked negative and positive realities and experiences of those with ASD” writes Mark Oresic in an Amazon review of The Kiss Quotient.
Hoang is expected to release her second book, The Bride Test, on May 7th, 2019. According to Amazon, The Bride Test is about Khai Diep, an Asian American on the autism spectrum, who tends to avoid relationships but finds himself in the middle of one when his mom goes to Vietnam to find him a bride.
Through The Kiss Quotient, Hoang gave readers a modern love story while portraying what it is like to be a woman diagnosed with Aspergers. Hoang used writing to understand her diagnosis and she hopes her books will enhance autism awareness among her readers, she tells Goodreads.