Wow! This book was simultaneously devastating and fascinating for me. Overall, I found it to be a downer, a huge one.
I had hoped I’d see Laura’s life...moreWow! This book was simultaneously devastating and fascinating for me. Overall, I found it to be a downer, a huge one.
I had hoped I’d see Laura’s life as one well worth living and uplifting, and that I’d find strength and inspiration there, despite her extreme sensory deprivation (she’d lost 4 senses, all but touch) but I didn’t, not as much as I’d have liked anyway. I found the book and Laura’s life very depressing, but I also found myself laughing a lot. Thank goodness for humor.
It didn’t help that I didn’t like these people. I did love Asa (though I might not have in real life) and at least some of these people were abolitionists which helped me dislike them a lot less, that and the simple fact of life’s difficulties helped me feel empathy for them, especially Laura, but most of them. What a world they were all trapped in. I guess I had the most problems with Doctor and Laura’s father, but really while I could sort of understand everyone, it was hard for me to like them. Given that, it’s amazing how much I enjoyed the book.
I found it interesting to see miscommunications magnified even more than usual, due to Laura’s limitations and isolation, severe even in the best of times, which was sometimes funny and often tragic.
At first I was disappointed when I found that every chapter wouldn’t be in Laura’s voice, and I’d assumed I’d be most interested in the young Laura, but it turned out I was able to get engaged with everyone’s voices and with Laura throughout her lifetime.
I enjoyed the Annie Sullivan and Helen Keller short portions. I’d been interested in Laura perhaps because of my longstanding interest in Helen and Annie.
I don’t know if this is good or bad, but I kept reading this as non-fiction, but it’s a novel. I think I might have to read a biography of her, with a lot of “in her own words.” I’m really grateful that at the end of the book the author cleared up some things about what was fictionalized and what actually happened.
I came away really enjoying the book but feeling horrified and sad about Laura’s life, and others’ lives too. It wasn’t only Laura’s sensory deprivation, though that was most of it, but the heartbreaking ways in which she was treated, educated, and how clear communication was gravely impacted, and how helpless in the world she so often was, how dependent she was, by necessity. I could 100% forgive and understand Laura’s religiosity. The whole story was difficult to read, but hard to forget, and very enjoyable in its own way.
I actually won this at GR First Reads but it came about a month after publication, which would have been fine if it was the hardcover edition I was expecting, but it was a very unattractive uncorrected proof edition, which would have been fine only if it had truly been an advance copy. So, I read a borrowed library edition, and didn’t touch the received uncorrected proof. I felt a bit blackmailed into reading the book. I wanted to read it, but with all the books on my to-read shelf, I’m not sure I’d have gotten to it, and doubt would have gotten to it as quickly as I did. I’m glad I did though so I can’t be that irked about how I came to read it now.(less)