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Beyond the Pale: Folklore, Family and the Mystery of Our Hidden Genes

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  311 ratings  ·  60 reviews
I’ve never met or known about anyone—family or acquaintance —who shares my daughter’s difference. It can pass silently on from parent to child for hundreds of years.

Newfoundland, Canada in 2010, Emily gives birth to a baby girl named Sadie Jane with a shock of snow-white hair. Within 3 months Sadie is diagnosed with albinism, a rare genetic disorder.

Using her knowledge o
Kindle Edition, 288 pages
Published April 28th 2016 by JACARANDA BOOKS (first published March 31st 2015)
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Emily Urquhart Hi Yaaresse,

Great question! Beyond the Pale is available in Kindle format in the US and in Canada. US: (ASIN: B00MTTE8C6) and…more
Hi Yaaresse,

Great question! Beyond the Pale is available in Kindle format in the US and in Canada. US: (ASIN: B00MTTE8C6) and

It's not available in large print, but I have put in a request for an accessible version in Canada. I will look into the US.

Thanks for prompting this. It's so important!

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Average rating 3.88  · 
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 ·  311 ratings  ·  60 reviews

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Jan 08, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir, non-fiction, arc
I am fairly conflicted about this book and I have mostly myself to blame for that. I did not really read the description before requesting it and going mainly off the title of the book, I expected the folklore part of this book to play a bigger role. And I would have loved that book (the one I imagined in my head I mean), I am sure of it. Using something as personal as the birth of one's child with albinism as a stepping stone to discuss larger themes of folklore and discrimination and mystery? ...more
Jen Campbell
Aug 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This has a massive personal connection for me. Will chat about it in my August wrap up. A wonderful read.
I'm giving this book a 3.5* rating which seems a little harsh in my head, but I think it makes sense. This is quite a short book and it is a non-fiction all about Albinism, folklore, and the way Albinism is treated and seen worldwide. When Emily (the author) had her baby (Sadie) she was born with Albinism. This is a genetic disease that affects people when two genes are mixed in the baby. When Sadie was born Emily had no knowledge of her family history with Albinism, and so she started trying to ...more
In December 2010, the author’s first child, Sadie, was born with white hair. It took weeks to confirm that Sadie had albinism, a genetic condition associated with extreme light sensitivity and poor eyesight. A Canadian folklorist, Urquhart is well placed to trace the legends that have arisen about albinos through time and across the world, ranging from the Dead Sea Scroll story of Noah being born with blinding white skin and hair to the enduring superstition that accounts for African albinos bei ...more
Amy | littledevonnook
May 04, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
A wonderful read exploring the many cultural beliefs and understandings surrounding albinism.

This is a non-fiction book focusing on a subject in which Emily Urquhart has poured her heart and soul. Having given birth to her daughter Sadie, Emily quickly discovered there was something that set her daughter apart from the rest - she had albinism. Being a passionate folklorist, Emily took it upon herself to discover everything there is to know about albinism - from all over the planet.

What I loved
I have been dithering on posting these notes. I read books, and then I say what I think about them. The notes are mostly for myself, but the GR model means saying things in public. If I want to use the site, that's the trade-off required. At the same time, I know that on the other side of this book are a probably very nice (and definitely emotionally-invested) author and a little girl growing up in the computer age who really didn’t have any say in being the subject of a book.

So, here goes. And
Sep 10, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Given that I am Canadian, it is ironic that I learned about this extremely well-written, non-fiction, Canadian book from the very British Jen Campbell, author, poet, and Booktuber extraordinaire. Thank you, Jen!

Urquhart's moving and informative book recounts her adjustment after her first child, a daughter, is born with albinism. The book is part memoir, part travelogue, part journalistic investigation, and part folkloric study. I highly recommend it. Urquhart seems to have inherited more than a
Read this review and more on my blog!

I feel like this year is the happiest I've felt with my reading habits for the longest time. When you step into book blogging it feels as though you must read what everyone else is reading, not because anyone else tells you that but because, naturally, you want to join in when other bloggers are really excited about a book they've been reading. I really tried, but I don't read primarily YA so a lot of the books that are very popular in the book blogging commu
Tracey Allen at Carpe Librum
Albinism is a rare genetic condition where pigment fails to form in a person's skin, hair and eyes. Those with albinism suffer from poor vision and sensitivity to the sun, often developing skin cancer. When Emily Urquhart gave birth to a daughter with albinism in 2010, her life took an unexpected turn.

Living in Canada, Urquhart set out determined to learn everything she could about the condition, and the implications for her daughter's health and wellbeing in the years to come. Beyond the Pale
Karen M
Mar 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2016
Such an interesting book! I'm glad I finally picked it up as I learned so much about albinism and how it affects people around the world. I loved how Urquhart tied her research into folklore -- it really does show how fiction and myths can help us understand something that is very real.

I'm reviewing this book for the GritLIT blog tour, so stay tuned for a longer review later this week!
Philippa Mary
Jun 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very interesting book about a topic I knew very little about. It is written really well and is easily accessible - you don't need any prior knowledge of albinism. Please go read this book! I highly recommend it.
Mar 11, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Quite disappointed by this I had really high hopes for this book. I thought there works be more facts and folklore surrounding albinism but what it mainly felt like was following someone coming to terms with being a new mother with some different challenges then your 'standard' new mother and listening to a friends aunt walk you through her findings on The only parts i found interesting/enjoyable were the medical facts and the tanzanian perpective. Perhaps I should have looked into ...more
Apr 07, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Beyond the Pale: Folklore, Family, and the Mystery of Our Hidden Genes" was not quite was I was expecting. This book is a memoir of a mother who has a daughter with albinism, or who is an "albino," but the author says that term is not politically correct. I wish she would have told us what people with this condition prefer to be called, however, the author used the term "albino" throughout the book. The author shares her story about having a child with a disability (people who have albinism ten ...more
After her daughter was born with albinism, Emily Urquhart began researching the genetic condition through the lens of her own field of study, folklore. She looks at historical western folklore, for example, people with albinism in "freak shows" or remote communes (there are stories like this for many conditions with particularly recognizable phenotypes), and the heartbreaking contemporary stories from Tanzania of the power and wealth to be attained through magic done with the body parts of a per ...more
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Jul 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beyond the Pale was an interesting and easy read. It follows the author's journey of trying to understand her family's genetic history after her daughter is born with Albinism. The family history portion of the book was the least interesting to me. However the author also travels to Africa in order to better understand some of the dangers that those living with Albinism face. She does conduct a variety of research also to better understand some of the myths and folklore surround Albinism in a va ...more
Jennifer Benson
Feb 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
“Beyond the Pale” is meticulously researched book, moving through albinism, mythology and folklore, family genealogy and Tanzanian atrocities in beautiful detail. Emily Urquhart’s ability to weave in the emotional upheaval at varying stages pulls at the reader’s heartstrings throughout. The fear of the unknown at the beginning to the acceptance and what the future will hold is a gradual build up to the horrifying darker tales that lurk in the middle of the book. The story ends on powerful, hopef ...more
Jill Robbertze
Dec 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
WOW, what an interesting book : The author, a journalist who also studies folklore is shocked when her first child is diagnosed with "Elbinism", a rare genetic disorder where the skin and hair lack pigment and vision is impaired. Emily Urquhart sets out to learn all she can about this condition and how different cultures treat those afflicted. Some of the horrific stories that she encounters, send her off on a mission to Tanzania, Africa to learn more and to support a charity called "Under the S ...more
Clare Diston
'Beyond the Pale' is Emily Urquhart's account of giving birth to a daughter with albinism and learning to raise a child with a genetic condition. This is a really interesting book, not least because it explores a subject about which I knew almost nothing before. That’s appropriate, of course, because Urquhart also knew very little about albinism before her daughter, Sadie, was born, and so the lay person can read this book and see the transformation of the writer herself from a lay person into s ...more
I won this book on Goodreads.
First of all the little girl in this book is so adorable. I love her parents too for letting her be just who she is. It really opened my eyes on the issues with Albinism and the horrors that are put upon these people in other countries. A really interesting and enlightening read.
Apr 10, 2015 marked it as started-could-not-finish  ·  review of another edition
I could not finish this. I did learn some interesting facts about albinism, but the tone was dreary, sad and morbid. When I got to the part where the author talks about Adam losing his arm to poachers, the book took a turn for the disturbing and unsettling, and that is where I had to stop. I can't.
Interesting personal story of a family's realization that their daughter has albinism, their efforts to understand what those effects will mean to her well being, the unclear genetic history in the family which is at the root of this "mutation" found in all life forms and their travels and education to achieve this. Recommend highly.
Print Teach
Jul 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I absolutely loved this book! Part biography, part fairy story, part literature review, part research project, part advert for ancestry websites... It's a fascinating mix of genres - but they all blend together to make a very readable, thoroughly enjoyable modern folktale-esque story. A really good read.

** Free copy received through GoodReads giveaways **
Feb 26, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, memoir
Quite interesting memoir about a mother and her daugther with albinism. Emily is trying to find the roots of the albinism in her family and how is it perceived by other people and in the folklore.
I had no idea about albinism in Africa and how terrible are people treated there...
Dec 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beyond the Pale: Folklore, Family and the Mystery of Our Hidden Genes was an enlightening read and the things that I learned within it still weigh heavy on my heart. She's an academic, but the book tries balance personal narrative with research. Psst... that's Sadie on the cover.
Not a smooth read, but interesting and informative. I learned a lot about albinism through this book.
Denise Loveless
Vey enlightening on albinism and a families' journey through knowledge and acceptance.
Interesting, wandered a bit, fairly self reflective stream of consciousness. Some great descriptions but more of a personal journal than an informative, definitive exploration of the sub title.
Oct 14, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lovely writing but overall I was disappointed. Not as much folklore as I expected from the blurb. She kept jumping between her own story and folklore.
Jessie B.
An interesting look at the condition of albinism from both personal and cultural perspectives
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