What most readers who pick up a memoir by the mother of Temple Grandin want to know is: how did she do it? How did she parent Temple so successfully t...moreWhat most readers who pick up a memoir by the mother of Temple Grandin want to know is: how did she do it? How did she parent Temple so successfully that she realized her potential against such tremendous odds? I wanted to know the answer to that question too, but I also believed that the woman who gave birth to Temple Grandin must also be pretty awesome. I was convinced that Eustacia Cutler’s own life story would be of value, and it turned out that I was right.
First, it’s important to realize that when Temple was born the psychiatric establishment believed that autism was a kind of schizophrenia. We now know that autism is an alternate form of brain organization, but in the late 1940’s children like Temple were just thrown away by their parents, and placed in institutions where they received no education whatsoever because no one believed that they were educable. Eustacia Cutler always believed in her daughter’s abilities.
Unfortunately, the research that Cutler did on autism was based on the false premise that autism manifests the same way in all individuals with autism. Over time, we have learned that there are variations in autism. Temple’s book, The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum, taught me about this diversity among autists. Yet when Eustacia Cutler wrote Thorn in My Pocket, she apparently believed that all individuals with autism were like her daughter.
So the value of this book isn’t in what it tells us about autism. Its value is historical. It tells us about the social context in which Temple Grandin grew up. We learn about Temple’s upbringing, her family and heritage.
I found Thorn In My Pocket to be very compelling reading. If you are interested in Temple Grandin and the influences that shaped her life, you may be just as fascinated by it.
I consider a thriller more compelling if it deals with a theme that I find significant. That’s why I enjoy eco-thrillers. I had recently read and very...moreI consider a thriller more compelling if it deals with a theme that I find significant. That’s why I enjoy eco-thrillers. I had recently read and very much liked the romantic eco-thriller, Amazon Burning by Victoria Griffith. So I was glad to have won a copy of the romantic eco-thriller, Eagleridge Bluffs by Rod Raglin through a Booklikes giveaway.
An important thematic issue to address in a review of Eagleridge Bluffs is the ethics of eco-terrorism. The phrase “collateral damage” is actually used by a member of an eco-terrorist team in this novel. People who want to protect the environment are motivated by their conviction that all the beings who live on our planet have value. How is a phrase like “collateral damage” consistent with that belief?
Miriam, the female protagonist, asks the tough questions that the eco-terrorists weren’t asking themselves. I think that Eagleridge Bluffs would have been a better novel if Zaahir, the eco-terrorist central character, had been portrayed as willing to reflect on his actions. This would have given him more dimension.
I have to say that I almost set Eagleridge Bluffs aside for a reason that is a spoiler. (view spoiler)[ I feel that the portrayal of women's sexuality in this novel wasn't realistic. For example,Miriam, who was unable to deal with losing her virginity in partnered sex, used a dildo instead. I found it incredible that she would find a dildo preferable. I also think that there would have been a great deal of blood involved, and that she might have been injured. There is no mention of blood at this point in the novel. (hide spoiler)] It undermined Miriam’s credibility as a character. Yet I stuck with the book, and I’m glad I did because the ending was very inspirational.
The reason why I enjoyed the ending so much is because it represents all the progress that Miriam made over the course of the book. This is the aspect of Miriam’s characterization that I found believable. When we first encounter Miriam she has been depressed for some time. This explains her passivity. Gradually, she becomes stronger and reclaims herself.
Yet when I examined the ending from the perspective of Zaahir, it seemed to me that there was some missing character development that would have made the ending possible. Zaahir may or may not have experienced a radical change in outlook. I can speculate, but Raglin leaves us with too many questions about this character.
So there are things that I liked about Eagleridge Bluffs, but there are some serious flaws in the characterization. Readers who care more about the thriller aspect of the book may not have the qualms that I did about whether the main characters were making sense.
If you are a reader who despises fairies, I would like to reassure you that there is little on the subject of fairies in this book. The murder victim...moreIf you are a reader who despises fairies, I would like to reassure you that there is little on the subject of fairies in this book. The murder victim was an author and artist who was obsessed with them, but the fairies weren’t available for an investigation.
So Phryne decided to become a fashion columnist at the magazine where the victim worked, Women’s Choice. She’s an excellent fashion columnist, by the way. Yet I liked the editor even more. She reminded me of Cosmopolitan editor Helen Gurley Brown. Her motto was “any woman can”, not just exceptional women. Any woman can achieve her dreams. Her magazine was speaking to the “flappers” of 1920’s Australia who wanted to hear that message since they were already living it.
Yet the murder investigation is upstaged by another plotline involving pirates. Phryne’s favorite lover, Lin Chung, had gone to China on a silk buying expedition, but hadn’t returned. It begins to look like he's being held by South China Sea Pirates.
I consider Away With The Fairies one of the best Phryne Fisher novels I’ve read so far. It had suspense, romance, heroism and feminism which are all characteristics I like to see in any novel.
I enjoyed the circus traditions and vocabulary included in this novel. The magical element occurs in the context of centuries old beliefs. In circus f...moreI enjoyed the circus traditions and vocabulary included in this novel. The magical element occurs in the context of centuries old beliefs. In circus families luck has always been considered an important factor in the success of an act, and losing that luck was often historically ascribed to a curse.
The two rival families that are the central focus of Girl on a Wire are the Maronis whose leading members are wire walkers, and the Garcias who star on the flying trapeze. Wire walkers and trapeze artists are both risk takers who rely heavily on precision, timing and luck. Despite these shared attributes, the Maronis and Garcias have not been allies. Instead there is a legacy of hatred between these two circus dynasties that is rooted in the past.
Jules, the sixteen year old Maroni protagonist, wants to uncover the reasons behind the enmity between the Maroni and Garcia clans; especially after she meets a charismatic male performer of her own generation whose surname is Garcia. Other reviews have called the Romeo and Juliet aspect of this novel predictable. I prefer to call it archetypal. It’s also important to note that the resolution of this story is far from predictable. I found it rather ingenious. Shakespeare would never have envisioned it. I expect to count this book among my top reads of 2014.
Miranda Corbie risks her life and her career for her country in her latest investigation. Yet nothing is what it seems when you enter the world of esp...moreMiranda Corbie risks her life and her career for her country in her latest investigation. Yet nothing is what it seems when you enter the world of espionage--particularly who should be considered heroes and villains. I admire Miranda's intelligence, resourcefulness and sense of ethics.
This book deals with an issue that makes me queasy, and I have to put my discussion of it behind spoiler tags. (view spoiler)[ I don't know why so many people think it was praiseworthy to preserve art by collaborating with the Nazis and helping them fund their war marchine. Miranda Corbie agrees with me on this issue. Paintings aren't more important than people. It isn't praisworthy to be an accomplice to genocide. In this book the characters involved in the art trade clearly weren't motivated by preserving the world's cultural heritage. They were all about profiting from Nazi looting of masterpieces. No one would argue that they were heroic or deserve to be lionized for it. The situation was quite different in The Woman Who Heard Colorand I had to discuss my views behind spoiler tags when I reviewed that book too. You can find that review at https://www.goodreads.com/review/show.... (hide spoiler)]
I am very much looking forward to reading Miranda's next adventure. I hope she gets to unlock the mysteries involving her past that have been preoccupying her so long.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)