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Group Reads in 2011 > MARCH: Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon

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message 1: by Rita, Busy Bee (new)

Rita Webb (ritawebb) | 351 comments Mod
I was the one who recommended this book to read. Until reading this book, I had known very little about Autism and autistic people. Written in first person, this book is from the perspective of an adult man (Lou) who was born just before the medicine was created that eradicated autism. He and a handful of others are the only ones left who struggle to fit into a world that hates them.

This book is not YA. It is an adult sci-fi, but I know of very few books that deal with the kinds of questions that this book addresses. Who am I? What makes me the person I am? What is normal? If I could change those things that make me unique, should I?

I'm not autistic, but I could identify with this man as he questions who he is and his place in the universe.

One of my favorite scenes is when Lou is talking to his boss who is angry with him for something that was outside Lou's control. Lou does every polite thing that his therapists had trained him to do since his childhood--look the other one in the eye, say thank you, speak kindly, don't yell... That's what normal people do, he was told.

But his boss didn't do those things, and Lou had to wonder who was really the more "normal" person.

Is "normal" really better?

message 2: by Wendy, Goddess of the Corn (new)

Wendy (wendyswore) | 56 comments Mod
I'm waiting for my copy to arrive. Should be here soon...

message 3: by Gwendolyn (new)

Gwendolyn (drgwen) | 30 comments I'll add this to my list to read, but I've just cracked the covers of her newest in the Legend of Paksenarrion Series: Kings of the North, and I've a new Jasper Fforde: One Of Our Thursday's Is Missing queued up as well.

message 4: by Rita, Busy Bee (new)

Rita Webb (ritawebb) | 351 comments Mod
Gwen, I haven't read anything else by Elizabeth Moon. Is the Legend of Paksenarrion series good?

message 5: by Gwendolyn (new)

Gwendolyn (drgwen) | 30 comments Very...

Back in 1991 I discovered a book titled The Sheepfarmer's Daughter on the SCI/FI bookshelf, and wondered why it was there. I sat down, read the first chapter... It was not at all what I had expected it to be.

I bought it, took it home and spent the weekend on my deck reading it from cover to cover.

I found myself enthralled, no only with the characters but also the world that had been created by the author.

I wound up searching a number of second-hand bookshops to find Divided Allegiance and finally Oath of Gold, the second and third books.

During a visit to my favourite used bookshop in Sarasota in 2005, I found a brand new copy of the Omnibus Edition of The Deed of Paksenarrion. It was still wrapped in plastic. Someone had misfiled it under Large-print Romance.

I re-read the stories and fell in love all over again.

Twelve years after the publication of Sheepfarmer's Daughter came Oath of Fealty, and a return to a world where I found myself once again ensorcelled by the stories of the lives of so many I had come to think of as familiar old friends.

I've been entranced and delighted with this series. I hope you will be as well.

message 6: by Wendy, Goddess of the Corn (new)

Wendy (wendyswore) | 56 comments Mod
Okay, Rita,

I'm not sure why it took so long for my book to come, but it arrived last week and I just read it in the car as we did a whirlwind California trip this weekend.

I was sucked in from the start with this book. I found it fascinating that we could see situations from the point of view of Lou (the autisitic) as well as from those around him watching.

And now at the end, I find myself torn trying to decide if he made the right decision for him or not. He had such a hard life, but he coped so well--made so many strides forward that he was more brilliant than impared.

He lost the ability--or the desire to fence, he lost the love interest in the love of his life, he lost friends and almost everything else that made him who he was...and yet, and yet...

He apparently is about to go into space, he's going to live that dream that was so far out of reach before.

I don't know. A part of me mourns Lou-before, while the other part rejoices for Lou-after.

What did you think? Was his choice obvious from the start to you? I was guessing right up until he started treatment whether or not he's really go through with it.

Fascinating book. Excellent suggestion, Rita. I thankful you pointed it out.

Oh! Another thing, I thought there would be two bad guys- that Don would be guilty of assaulting him in the parking lot, but that the other autistic girl (was it emma? Emily? I'd have to look) would be behind the vandalism. I think my brain was looking for something tricksy like most books have, but this books was enough just the way it was.

Thoughts m'dear?

message 7: by Rita, Busy Bee (last edited Apr 18, 2011 02:33PM) (new)

Rita Webb (ritawebb) | 351 comments Mod
Wendy wrote: "I don't know. A part of me mourns Lou-before, while the other part rejoices for Lou-after."

I think I more mourned for Lou-before than celebrated Lou-after. I mourn because he didn't treasure what he had.

One of the things that fascinated me about this book was how the descriptions came from the POV rather than from the author. He could find fascination in the most mundane things. Like how he saw the colors in the hair of the girl he loved. If you hold a few strands of your hair out to the sun, you'll see more than blond, brown, black, or red.

message 8: by Wendy, Goddess of the Corn (new)

Wendy (wendyswore) | 56 comments Mod
And were it not for the expectations of society, the alienation, the shame, he might never have felt the pressure external or internal to change. Sad. But beautiful.

message 9: by Rita, Busy Bee (last edited Apr 18, 2011 02:33PM) (new)

Rita Webb (ritawebb) | 351 comments Mod
Being a homeschool mom, I face criticism by people who insist my children must be socialized. Yes, we need to learn how to interact with others, and so the girls take dance classes and go to the park where they have to make new friends and play with their neighbors where they have to develop relationships over time and fight with their siblings so that they have to learn how to manage conflict.

But that's not what people mean when they say "socialize". They mean my kids need to learn how to submit to social norms and be just like everybody else.

And I really don't understand why. Throughout history, it's the free thinkers and the creators and the innovators who change the world.

That's what this book means to me, and that's why I chose it as a YA read, even though it is an adult book. Teenagers graduating from high school have a decision to make, just like Lou did.

Do you want to fit in and get a job like everybody else? Or do you want to take the path less traveled?

There's nothing wrong with getting a job. When following your dreams, you still have to pay the bills. But is the job the goal or is it the means to an end?

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