"Images swirled by - horses, mirrors, stars, guitars, chocolate bars, water, bicycles, tigers, visitors from afar." What did Esmeralda really see when she gazed into the crystal sphere, to its absolute centrepoint? Was this what Savannah, the delightfully mysterious girl who has autism, saw when she seemed hypnotized by the glass ornaments on her tree?
It all begins as young Esmeralda Mrky of Cowichan Lake finds herself concerned about how she compares to others and how she can avoid being lonely. She wants answers. When she meets Savannah, she finds herself in bewilderment as new questions come rapidly. Through spending time making music, telling stories and exploring the outdoors with Savannah, however, she starts to look at the world differently and she ponders the notion of freedom, image and friendship.
When Esmeralda has to move, Savannah gives her a spherical crystal ornament. With this gift she can look for more answers as she uses it to travel (in her mind) to events and places such as a triathalon, India, outer space, Arizona and someplace chocolate. Additionally, she attempts to grab onto the hovering "turquoise triangle" while flying with a winged tiger and, later, while conversing with a spellbinding rock star who is in what he calls "retrograde motion," she finds out why it is not such a good idea to touch the triangle. All of this happens as she journeys on a different mini-adventure every year - adventures that explore parts of Esmeralda's own life and dance with issues such as the threatened environment, addictions and romance. These short stories weave together to form a tapestry that shows how the concerns of growing up blend and yet take turns in the spotlight as time goes by. These adventures parallel the real-life situations that are presented as Esmeralda battles a new loneliness and befriends a group of teens known as "the planaria" which is led by Carmela, a spiritual, holistic, individualistic environmentalist.
At age nineteen, Esmeralda returns to her old home at Cowichan Lake with the hope of seeing Savannah again, and comes to realize that there will always be stories within her and she can listen to them without the help of the sphere.
Embellished with gentle poetry, and spiced with unique yet real characters and embarrassing and heart-warming situations, A Place Within the Sphere is a joyous exploration into what life is like for the friends and family of a person with autism.