Full disclosure: I perceived this novel only halfway as a reader. The other half was as the parent of a child on the spectrum, a parent dreading the fFull disclosure: I perceived this novel only halfway as a reader. The other half was as the parent of a child on the spectrum, a parent dreading the frustration of a story in which somehow magically all the challenges would be minimized or overcome by some kind of deus ex machina kird of miracle.
And indeed, Don seems to be blessed with many advantages compared to any other Aspie I've ever met (yes, I realize that there is no such thing as an 'average' person among those on the spectrum), so there was a fairy tale like quality to his quest (how many protagonists get to look like Gregory Peck?). But there was enough that was recognizable to me from real-life Aspies that I could accept the story and the way it unfolded.
And in the end, I adored Don. His earnestness, his literal interpretations, his dogged efforts to apply "social protocols" he doesn't understand nor see the need for, his determination to hold on to his precious few friends and do what is right for them. Especially, the wrenching moments in which he embodied something I've seen over and over: that just because these individuals don't show emotion the way other people do, DOES NOT MEAN they don't have emotions. They show them and feel them in a different way.
I loved this story of how both Don and Rosie developed, and started right back at the beginning as soon as I finished it the first time. ...more
After reading a number of novels set in countries occupied by Nazis during WWII, it was interesting to to read about living under occupation through tAfter reading a number of novels set in countries occupied by Nazis during WWII, it was interesting to to read about living under occupation through the eyes of someone from a completely different part of the world and during a different time period. Amazing how some aspects are exactly the same across time and cultures.
The subject matter was interesting, the heroine engaging, however I struggled with finishing. I'm not sure if it was a matter of author style, or accumulated frustration at reading about the endlessly misogynistic attitudes of the times. In the end, it was inspiring to see how resourceful the women were in surviving emotionally in the face of enormous restrictions....more
Pro: - unpredictable - became immersed in the story and perspective of all 4 POV characters - set in a fascinating place and time - was intriguing to seePro: - unpredictable - became immersed in the story and perspective of all 4 POV characters - set in a fascinating place and time - was intriguing to see how such vastly differing cultures dealt with common issues of response to corruption, social order, approach to medical matters, ethnic bias, de facto slavery - how many issues were ultimately resolved - liked the realization of why the title was chosen
Con: - there is no question that the author writes in a highly skillful and creative manner. Yet every author has their own unique style, and it expressed itself here in a repeated technique of which I became over-aware over the course of the novel, such that my reading attention became split between story and wondering when it would show up again. It went something like this:
description description descrption description SENTENCE ABOUT A BUG CRAWLING UP A WALL description description description description
dialogue dialogue dialogue dialogue SENTENCE ABOUT A BIRD DOING SOMETHING dialogue dialogue dialogue dialogue
weather weather weather weather weather SENTENE ABOUT A BUG CRAWLING DOWN A WALL weather weather weather weather weather
dialogue dialogue dialogue dialogue SENTENCE ABOUT A BIRD DOING SOMETHING ELSE dialogue dialogue dialogue dialogue
It became kind of humorous in a way I don't' think was intended.
Overall: I suspect this story will remain with me for a long time, and I will certainly read this author again....more
We all read books through our unique personal mental baggage filters. This book had a great effect on me; it's impossible for me to say whether it wouWe all read books through our unique personal mental baggage filters. This book had a great effect on me; it's impossible for me to say whether it would have been as powerful even if it hadn't touched on similar issues as affect my extended family.
This is my first novel with a protagonist who has Aspergers. I don't know if a person who lives with this condition would think the thoughts, emotions, and behavior of the protagonist were realistic, but as the parent of a child who has at times been described as 'outside of normal' (a recurring theme in the book) in certain areas, I was completely convinced by the way the heroine tells her first-person story. I applauded her dogged determination to think of herself and encourage others to think of her as a person with a personality, rather than as someone abnormal and in need of a label ("putting a word on me", as she describes it.) I was so much 'in' the protagonist's head that regularly when reading, I was enraged at the apparently controlling, judgemental way the protagonist's sister behaves towards her. It was only when I stopped reading and thought about what had actually happened that I would recall the big picture of the situation and the utterly legitimate concerns the sister was trying to deal with, and that she regularly tried to discuss things rather than making all decisions over the protagonist's head.
What the story did well: demonstrating that "normal/healthy" and "abnormal/pathological" are not black and white concepts in terms of human coping, but stretch along a continuum so that individuals who have specific types of challenges can nevertheless locate the ares of life where they can develop skills and contribute, and that it is essential for their families (any anyone else who meets them, for that matter) to strive to support them in the process of identifying what those skills might be.
Why the story didn't rate 5 stars for me, despite achieving the "will I reread this?" requirement: What is the most fundamental concern parents of challenged children have? That when they, the parents, have passed on, that their children may become vulnerable to exploitation or neglect such that their basic living needs are not met.
This novel didn't answer those questions. At the beginning of the story, the heroine lives in her parents' home, and has all monetary and day-to-day transactions taken care of for her. She knows to hand pre-counted cash in pre-stuffed envelopes to delivery people, and can use a credit card, but appears to have zero awareness or curiosity of how money got into accounts or what will happen about all the myriad expenses that make up daily life now that her parents have died. By the time the story ends, she has made remarkable progress on social, emotional, and activity fronts, but there is no indication at all about how financial realities are being taken care of. It was a glaring absence for me....more
Loved it. Wonderful language, marvellous evocation of the court life with all the privilege and stifling rules that involves, compelling heroine forceLoved it. Wonderful language, marvellous evocation of the court life with all the privilege and stifling rules that involves, compelling heroine forced to find her way in a foreign world while figuring out if her new husband is a murderer. Had that great, magical sigh of satisfaction after finishing....more
Wildly creative. Brilliant world-building on all levels - a post-catastrophic world with the nature of the catastrophe never spelledHighly recommend!
Wildly creative. Brilliant world-building on all levels - a post-catastrophic world with the nature of the catastrophe never spelled out, detailed and believable characterization of what could happen in a society where rules and non-innovation are everything and a strict caste system is built on how much of various colors a person can see. The satire is deft and made me wonder, as a person partially of Indian descent, what people who live in an existing caste system would think of the novel.
Very much looking forward to finding out how some loose ends will be handled in next installments....more