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Me, Who Dove into the Heart of the World

3.78  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,076 Ratings  ·  177 Reviews
"Enthralling...A hymn to the sacred connection among all species."—O, The Oprah Magazine

An unforgettable woman proves that a person's eccentricities can also be her greatest gifts.

When Isabelle Nieto comes to Mexico to take over the family business, a failing tuna cannery on the coast, she finds a wild young girl wandering the beaches near her family's home. So begins
Paperback, 256 pages
Published July 30th 2013 by Picador (first published 2010)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,926)
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Feb 04, 2014 Maxwell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-own-it, 2014
Karen Nieto is discovered in her house in Mazatlan by her Aunt Isabelle, after her sister, Karen's mother, has passed away. Karen is a feral child, left to scavenge for food, with no past human interactions to shape her social behavior or even speaking capabilities. And Karen is also autistic. She is a high functioning autistic savant, ranging from complete 'imbecile' (the book's words, not mine) in certain areas, to genius in others. Her family owns a tuna cannery in Mexico that is about to go ...more
Unfortunately, I found this book to be a bit disappointing. Though the translation felt very smooth and without error, the perspective - that of a 42-year-old autistic woman - felt rather inconsistent, and often bordering on the inauthentic. The book felt like a fictionalization of the life of Temple Grandin, an autistic woman who has made an amazing impact on both industry and the animal-human bond. Here, Karen revolutionized the tuna industry rather than cattle, but the similarities from the u ...more
Implausible and weird.

Let me explain. I thought this was going to be a novel about the journey of the aunt bringing her orphaned, wild, autistic niece into society. But no. Within the space of a few pages Karen went from zero to self-taught reader and fairly competent communicator (implausible). The rest was about her education and subsequent career as a humane animal slaughterer (weird).

It wasn't badly written or anything, and there was just enough interest to keep reading, but I was left thin
Kelly Kittel
Feb 28, 2014 Kelly Kittel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book, particularly all the underwater/fish scenes. Being part fish myself, I could totally relate to the protagonists favorite pasttime of simply laying her head on a rock on the bottom of the ocean and leaving the realm of thought behind in yet another example of her rejection of Descartes "Cogito, ergo sum" philosophy of life. I loved the lemon leaves and the grove she ultimately planted, as well as her unlikely love for Ricardo. I loved the tuna paradises and her ability ...more
Kristine Hansen
Oct 09, 2012 Kristine Hansen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Goodness, I've never had such trouble in picking a shelf for a book. How in the world do I classify this one? Autistic fiction perhaps, but if I create that shelf then I almost feel obligated to seek out more of such an animal and with the exception of "The Curious Incident of the Dog at NIght" I'm not sure what would go on that shelf.

This was a book that was at times difficult to read. Maybe autistics shouldn't read about autistics because it really underscores just how different our thought pa
Oct 18, 2014 Georgina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had to read this for a Latin American Literature class I'm taking. At first I thought it would be a boring book. I Loved this book! Karen the main character's struggle being autistic allowed her to relate more to the tuna than as she calls it "humans". She is always under estimated in her abilities but her Aunt sees more in her than anyone and believes she has more to offer. I liked how she found similarities when she travels to Japan in the peoples customs and compared them to her austism. He ...more
Aug 15, 2012 Kerrie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very peculiar book. I found it really hard to get into the rhythm of the writing at first and then I wasn't sure if I was enjoying it or not.

Having said that, I raced through the last half and didn't want to put it down .

Having read a few books with Autistic characters, this wasn't new, however this was the first I'd read from an adult female perspective.

I always enjoy seeing the world from someone else's perspective, a new set of priorities and values. It is always thought provoking.

An enjoya
Joshua Tree
Great book. I've become very skeptical of what I call 'dis-lit' (disability literature), as writing from the perspective of someone on the autistic spectrum has become an easy gimmick. The focus is often on the disability, and the character is painted in the 2-dimensional way that most neurotypical folks see people on the spectrum, keeping him/her firmly in the "other" category.

But Karen Nieto is not an "other". Besides her abuse/neglect as a child (which was heartbreaking yet sadly realistic),
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
On the 21st of August, 1978, Isabelle Nieto arrives from California to the coastal town of Mazatlán, Mexico, after her grandfather's death. Arriving at the family's 19th-century French mansion, Isabelle learns that she's inherited her grandfather's tuna cannery, Consolation Tuna, since her older sister, Lorena, also died recently at the age of sixty-seven. That's not all she's inherited, though. There is also the matter of the "Thing" that lives in the house, along with Gorda, the housekeeper. T ...more
Jul 15, 2012 Nancy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Karen Neito was, until about age 8, a totally feral child. Oh, she lived in the house along with her mother and the cook; but Mom wasn’t entirely stable so, Karen took care of herself. Until her aunt found her one day after Karen’s mother had driven off a cliff.
The first word she learned was “ME”. Over and over again she said it: ”Me, me, Me mE, ME…..” until she got it right. Then she tried “You” with her aunt but that was confusing to her. How could she be You one second and Me the next? IQ t
Taken from the point of view of an autistic woman, Karen (which took me a really long time to remember her name since it is first person perspective and she always capitalizes Me), the book looks at how human beings think about what make them human. Two major points of reference she draws on time and time again are Descartes and Darwin. Her major problem with Descartes is his famous phrase "I think; therefore, I am," which she finds impossibly stupid. And I agree with her. She's convinced me who ...more
Jaclyn Michelle
Nov 29, 2012 Jaclyn Michelle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

That's what I said to Pena and my aunt over the radio; they were awaiting news in the tower in the dock.
I like that word very much: okay. It's from the 19th century, the American Civil War. Generals used to write it in their war reports when nobody had died that day.
Zero killed = 0 killed = 0K= Okay.
Okay, over and out, my aunt responded.
Outside the radio cabin on deck, the man from Greenpeace tugged off the hood of his wetsuit. He had brown hair
"The trick . . . seems to be not to kill. Not to kill reality nor to let reality kill Me."

This is a strange and gorgeous book. 4.5 stars. I read it in just a few hours, and then I wanted to read it again, the first time I've had that reaction in years.

It's a little bit magical realism, a little bit satire, and a little bit Buddhist meditation guide. Like Forrest Gump the book meets the latest thing by Thich Nhat Hanh.

The plot is this. Karen grows up criminally neglected in the family mansion in
Jun 11, 2012 thewanderingjew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
If you like original, unusual, interesting books, this has to be on the top of your list. Narrated by Karen Nieto, an autistic savant, this book takes you into the world of someone who makes the most of her “different abilities”. Written by an acclaimed Mexican author, of Jewish background, who often uses part of her heritage in her books, the readers will find that the novel enlightens them with interesting, clear and concise information, not only about autism but also about the tuna industry, ...more
Mar 09, 2013 Muphyn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those who enjoyed "The curious indicident of the Dog in the Night-Time"
Recommended to Muphyn by: Bookclub read
This was such an easy read, I just breezed through the 370 odd pages. Told from the point of 'Me' (Karen Nieto), a 42 year old highly functioning autistic and who calls herself "Miss Different Abilities" (how cool is that?! :) ), the book tells the story of how Karen, brought up by her aunt, turns her aunt's tuna fishing business into a multi-million dollar venture.

There are a few comical moments in the book that made me laugh out loud, like the incident on the Japanese toilet/bathroom, quite in
fantastic first novel be celebrated mexican playwright berman. funny and poignant story of tuna fisheries, globalization/bain capitalization, and how being and approaching life and world differently can be creative and powerful. this novel probably will make you cry though. of interest is de botton's book about "work" that also has a very interesting chapter on tuna fisheries and goes very well with this novel The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work
Marjorie DeLuca
Apr 09, 2015 Marjorie DeLuca rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Finding this book was like discovering hidden treasure. Translated from the Spanish, this book tells the story of Karen or "Me" as she learns to call herself, an autistic savant living a feral existence on a Mazatlan beach until her mother dies and her Aunt Isabelle inherits the tuna cannery and mansion then rescues Karen in the process. Isabelle reaches out to the wild young girl and lovingly teaches her to become a part of the world she shunned.
Eventually Karen grows to love the whole process
Theresa Southam
Feb 08, 2014 Theresa Southam rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book! Berman says "And what makes humans so sure that thinking is the most important activity in the universe?...I on the contrary have never forgotten that first I existed and then, with a lot of difficulty, I learned to think." (p. 31) Throughout the book the autistic main character challenges the idea that nonhuman is superior or indeed separate from human. But more then this she encourages us to be! From the lovely scenes of swimming with tuna to more minute instances of clarity ...more
Aug 20, 2013 Trevor rated it it was ok
Despite solid writing and some enjoyable parts, the concept and form were too familiar for me to enjoy this book. Not only that, but the narrator is clearly based on Temple Grandin and comes off the lesser due to the comparison.

For my full review, go to my blog here.
Crystal Allen
Sep 05, 2013 Crystal Allen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
My husband and I were just talking about a tuna sale that happened in Japan and I said to him "Oh! I read the most interesting book about an autistic woman and how she (fictionally) transformed the face of the tuna industry." I searched frantically and realized I hadn't added it to goodreads! From what I remember I loved this book, so I'm giving it 5 stars. :) The Temple Grandin of tuna!
Judith Daley
Feb 27, 2013 Judith Daley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow....a very odd and wonderful read. If you like this book, I'd recommend any of the books by Temple Grandin, an autistic woman who has created an amazing life as a professor in the Veterinary School of Colorado State University. Especially great linked to this book is Thinking in Pictures in which Grandin explores her ability to understand animal thought.
Aug 21, 2015 Deane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: general-fiction
I like books like this one....very different and very interesting about a woman, Karen Nieto, who is autistic and likes her title of 'Miss Different Abilities" ....she rates poorly on many tests but overachieves in fascinating ways in others. She has a photographic memory and can re-construct on paper a place she has seen; even to the correct number of bricks in the walls. I was a little disappointed in the kidnapping scenario....couldn't figure out if it was her imagination or really happened f ...more
Aug 05, 2015 Jo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this book up based on the cover and the blurb, not knowing anything else about it or the author. I thought it might be similar to "Room", but actually it was a bit different as it followed the character throughout her life as she learnt to navigate society. I really enjoyed it - I think it's always interesting to get a first-person perspective from a character who has such a unique way of thinking - and, in my opinion, it was done quite well, I never felt like it was unauthentic or over ...more
May 29, 2012 Ely rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
El relato de Karen, más lúcida que muchos de los que la rodean, reivindica la intuición y los sentidos frente a la razón, el derecho a ser diferente. Su particular sensibilidad no siempre es comprendida por los otros. Dura pero frágil, incomprendida y genial.
Karen Nieto is an autistic child who was neglected and abused by her mother. When the mother dies, her sister inherits the mansion, the family tuna cannery and her feral niece.

Some of the most beautiful writing I've ever read.
Nikki Adames
Sin duda, la protagonista y narradora Karen te invita a entrar en su mundo, a poner en duda algunas cosas que dabas por sentado, a existir y ver todo a nuestro derredor para, cuando sea necesario y con dificultad, pensar y complicarnos la vida.
Me inspiró sobremanera a seguir indagando en los retos de una persona autista día a día en su convivencia con los humanos standard, cómo para Karen es tan claro que los humanos no somos el centro del mundo ni todo lo existente está en función a nosotros p
Jess (jessica)
Apr 19, 2014 Jess (jessica) rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kelsi H
Please check out all of my review at!

When Karen Nieto’s aunt Isabelle returns to her childhood home in Mazatlan, Mexico after the death of her sister, she finds a niece that she did not know existed. Karen grew up as a feral child with undiagnosed autism, who is finally able to communicate with others because of the love and support of her aunt. Isabelle’s parenting is far from conventional, as she allows Karen to play and work at the family’s failing tuna cann
Sarah Lawrence
I've had some disappointments lately, and a string of three- and four-starred books. I thought this one might be special, so I was saving it up. Happily, I was right.

Like The Hangman's Daughter , this is a translation (from Spanish). Unlike The Hangman's Daughter, this translation was done so well that I almost never noticed any odd phrases. This is what literary translation should look like! Hats off to Lisa Dillman.

I felt so good reading this book. Karen's voice was so engaging, the aspects
Drusie's Biblio
Jun 13, 2014 Drusie's Biblio rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
You can translate this review on:

"Lo sottolineo perché è sempre stata questa la grande differenza tra me e la zia: lei crede che le parole siano le cose del mondo, mentre io so che sono solo frammenti di suono e che le cose del mondo esistono senza avere bisogno delle parole."

Karen. Io. Come dice lei parlando di se stessa. La zia la trova in un vero e proprio stato selvaggio. Una specie di umanoide che urla e mangia la sabbia.

Il primo atto d'amore del lib
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Escritora: Dramaturga, Novelista, Ensayista, Periodista y Guionista.

Ha ganado cuatro veces el Premio Nacional de Dramaturgia de México. Dos veces el Premio Nacional de Periodismo. Un Ariel de la Academia de Cinematografía. Dos películas de su autoría han representado a México en los Oscares. Ha dado clases en la NYU, la Universidad de Yale y la Universidad de Claifornia at Berkeley.
More about Sabina Berman...

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“But here's the most incredible thing about it: the philosopher isn't proposing that as a concept; he's simply articulating what humans believe about themselves. That first they thing and therefore then they exist.
What follows on from that is even worse: that since humans live that way, thinking that first they thing and then they exist, they also think that anything that doesn't think, also doesn't fully exist.
Trees, the sea, the fish in the sea, the sun, the moon, a hill or a whole mountain range. None of that exists all the way; it exists on a second plane of existence, a lesser existence. Therefore, it deserves to be merchandise or food or background for humans and nothing more.”
“And what makes humans so sure that thinking is the most important activity in the universe?...I on the contrary have never forgotten that first I existed and then, with a lot of difficulty, I learned to think." (p. 31)” 1 likes
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