Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Fall Down 7 Times Get Up 8: A Young Man’s Voice From the Silence of Autism, by Naoki Higashida. Translated by KA Yoshida & David Mitchell. Random House, 2017





Higashida is on the spectrum; he was nonverbal for a long time and even today he struggles with expressing himself verbally; he has what he calls restricted speech. He finds it easier many times to use his computer or a spelling board to communicate. When he was thirteen he wrote his first book, ‘The Reason I Jump’ to try and explain some of his actions to neurotypical folks. His new book, written as a 24 year old, takes that further, telling us what it’s like to live in his world. It includes some of his ‘aha’ moments, when he figured out things that most of us take for granted. His is a life of anxiety and distractions coming from his own brain. He absolutely doesn’t feel sorry for himself, though; while he’s unhappy with parts of his life- like his inability to properly express to his mother how grateful he is to her- he is in general upbeat. I found it very interesting that he has obsessions that have to be dealt with to stay calm- as one with OCD myself, I could certainly those, as well as his sensory overload.

The book is written in short chapters; some only a couple of pages long. Many are posts from his blog, so this gives a bit of a disjointed feeling reading the book.  The translators have a child on the spectrum themselves, and I suspect this gave them a special attachment to this project. I recommend this book to anyone with a family member or friend on the spectrum, especially if that person has trouble communicating. Five stars. 


The above is an affiliate link. If you click through and buy something- anything- from Amazon, they will give me a few cents. 

I received this book free from the Amazon Vine program in return for an unbiased review. 

Neither of these things influenced my review.  

Monday, June 19, 2017

The Essex Serpent, by Sarah Perry. Custom House, 2016




When Cora Seaborne’s husband dies, no one in the household is sorry. He was a sadistic and abusive man, who leaves Cora with scars both physical and mental to remember him by. But he also leaves her with a bit of money, so she no longer has to stay in the mansion with the bad memories; she, her autistic son Francis, and her socialist companion Martha move to a village in Essex, where she hopes to find fossils like Mary Anning is doing. There she meets the Ransomes: William the vicar, his wife Stella, and their three children. Cora and Stella immediately take to each other as if they had grown up together; Cora and William find themselves in a different sort of friendship, arguing in a jovial way, frequently via letter. But all is not fun and games in Aldwinter; the legendary Essex sea monster (a real bit of Essex folklore) seems to be back, drowning young men, stealing goats, and generally scaring the people silly even though no one has seen it.

This is a book you climb into and live in with the characters. The descriptions of nature, of people, and especially of Stella are the literary equivalent of pre-Raphaelite paintings; exquisitely detailed and saturated with life. There is a great cast of characters, and intellectual and social issues are explored. I loved this novel; there is a lot of depth to it. Five stars. 


The above is an affiliate link. If you click through and buy something- anything- from Amazon, they will give me a few cents. 

I received this book free from the Library Thing early reviewers program in return for an unbiased review. 

Neither of these things influenced my review.  

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Girl Who Knew Too Much, by Amanda Quick. Berkley, 2017





I don’t often read mysteries, so I had never encountered Amanda Quick/Jayne Castle/Jayne Anne Krentz before. But the book is set in early 1930s Hollywood and southern California, so I went for it.

The story hits the ground running; Anna Harris comes home to find her employer murdered. The dead woman has used her own blood to write a warning “Run” on the wall. Anna takes her at her word, but when she grabs her own hidden savings, she finds extra money with it, a small notebook, and a letter from her employer, advising her to run as far as she could and become someone else on the way. A trip across the country on Route 66 and Anna turns into Irene, a reporter for a Hollywood tell-all paper. Then, when called to a clandestine meeting at the Burning Cove Hotel where she will supposedly be told a good story, she finds the informant dead. Thus begins another mystery for Irene, who feels she can trust no one. A serial killer is on the loose, one who may be after Irene.

The two murder storylines run at the same time. A budding movie star who is a prime suspect, the owner/manager of the Burning Cove who was formerly a stage magician who was shot during his last act, the movie star’s gal Friday, an inventor/engineer, a sociopathic ‘fixer’ for his father’s firm; all interesting characters. As another reviewer has pointed out, Irene and the former magician make a sort of Nick and Nora couple who should be good for a series. This is not set in Hollywood but on the fringes of Hollywood life. The author is good at describing the clothing, the cars, and the settings of the early 30s.

I give this book four stars out of five; I enjoyed it a lot, but the characters could have been more fleshed out. I’m hoping that this will turn into a series and that we’ll get to know the people better. While the local murder mysteries were tied up neatly, the murder of Irene’s former employer has left an opening for further intrigue that should be interesting. 


The link above is an affiliate link. If you click through and buy something- anything- from Amazon, they will give me a few cents. 

I received this book free from the Amazon Vine program in return for an unbiased review. 

Neither of these things influenced my review.