The Purple Tree by Sydney Edmond

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review by stimmyabby

This Book Is Dedicated to Love. Well, I’m sure Love is flattered.

This book is sweet and colorful, full of rhythmic bits that will get stuck in your head, goofy lines and wordplay.

“Writing poems
is a popular pastime
plenty of people pursue.

Writing it
pleases their palates,
particularly apes in Peru.”

“As I linger on a thought
looking out to sea,
I wonder if a little bit
the sea remembers me.

We wallowed in the Summer,
We walked in Spring and Fall,
Winter’s here, and I fear,
it knows me not at all.”

Again, her sense of rhythm.

This book is expensive and hard to get and so may not be worth it for everyone. But it is a lovely, lovely book.

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Life Behind Glass by Wendy Lawson

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review by stimmyabby

This is a short, sweet, well-written memoir from a certainly interesting life. Though I don’t like how she generalizes, saying things like, “autistic children do not have any sense of danger when it comes to roads, oceans, rooftops or cliffs”, I really liked this book. The words flowed and made me laugh.

“‘Marmalade and cheese!’ my friend exclaimed in horror.
‘Yes – it’s even nicer with banana.’”

now you know me think more by Ppinder Hundal and Pauline Lukey

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review by stimmyabby

This book is mostly written by the nonautistic facilitator, so I didn’t read all of it.

This book may be useful for people who want to learn more about FC or it may be a useful tool to prove that autistic people do, in fact, have thoughts, but it’s not particularly engaging or especially well written and I wouldn’t really recommend it outside of that.

No You Don’t by Sparrow Rose Jones

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review by stimmyabby

I truly love this book.

It is a gorgeously written and extremely courageous essay collection that makes me feel less alone and more hopeful. My favorite essay is Autistics Speaking Day, which is as good a summary of autism (at least one autism- as I like to say, different autistic people have different autisms) as you can get without writing a 5000 page book about it, both the bad (“You want to listen to the class lecture, but someone coughed and someone else rattled a piece of paper and someone else shuffled their feet on the floor and there’s no way you can follow the professor so hopefully the textbook will have everything you need to know.”) and the beautiful (“Have you ever spent half the day lost in the beauty of how water moves?”).

Thank you.

Embracing The Sky: Poems Beyond Disability by Craig Rokema

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review by stimmyabby

This book is an enjoyable, rhythmic read that will get you lost in the ordinary details of life. Craig writes about everything from playing the piano (“I remember the elation/ of discovering sound,/ of producing combinations of/ pitches,/ listening to overtones,/ like waves pulsing through/ my ears”) to watching the fire (“Now it is dying/ and glowing coals/ remind me of sleep.”) to typing and grappling with pity (“When I type, how agonizing is the wait/ between the beginning and the end!/ Sometimes I slow down and stop,/ just to watch people stiffen and get restless./ They probably pity me,/ the poor one-fingered communicator,/ but I pity them too.”) to lying awake at night wondering about what could have been (“Would people have elected me to societies/ and wanted me for a prom date?/ Would they have marveled at my creativity and intelligence/ instead of expecting me to prove them/ over and over again?”)

Weirdos Like Me by Donna Williams

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review by stimmyabby

Donna Williams’s poems have a ticklish texture and a deep soul. They melt in your mouth and drip all over the walls. I cannot tell the poems from the songs.

“I’ve heard it said, a broken biscuit
is the best one in the tin.
You gather up the pieces
and put them, put them,
put them together again.”

“Victors write the history. Pictures drawn of me
are those which pose no threat to the secrets they must keep.
Did the doggies bite you? They ripped you limb from limb.
And you just ran around in circles as they bit you once again.”

“It’s crispy and it’s crunchy or it’s sluggily and wet.
Some think that it’s munchy, others keep it like a pet.
On a handkerchief, or hidden underneath the seat.
You can see them in the car
as they’re driving down the street.…
Worry not, at what I’ve got.
You’ve got your own.
It’s only snot.”

Someone would call her childish. She makes me want to dance.

Worried Wendy Goes To School by Jenna Lumbard

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review by stimmyabby

Blergh.

This is a patronizing rhyming book about a girl whose only character trait is being worried about school, until her only character trait is realizing that school isn’t so bad after all.

(Also, she says “I’m so glad I decided to give school a try!” after being forced to go to school, which isn’t actually deciding to give it a try at all and is exactly the kind of language condescending therapists use when they want you to like something.)

It isn’t any worse then those books usually are, but blergh.

Asparagus Dreams by Jessica Peers

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review by stimmyabby

This is a memoir, but it reads more like a chapter book, because instead of being told from the present looking back, it is told as it unfolds, by the person the author was when she experienced it. It is a story about growing up in a residential school for people with autism. It is a story of abuse and resistance. It is a story of friendship. It is a story of larger-than-life characters and their colorful antics. This book tells it like it is- or like the author thought it was- with little simplifying, justifying, or moralizing. I would definitely recommend this book.

Women From Another Planet, edited by Jean Kearns Miller

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review by stimmyabby

This is a collection of writing by autistic woman! Sound awesome? It is awesome.

It has poetry and personal essays. I loved “I Wish” by Sola Shelly- a poem I would recite to myself on bad days- and I also found comfort in her essay “Nothing but a Flower”. Most of the pieces are wonderful, and you can see the sense of humor shine through in titles like “I Don’t Remember Signing Up For This Planet” by Mary Margaret Britton Yearwood.

One of my favorite things about this book is the section on autistic parents. We have plenty of writing by autism parents but not enough by autistic parents! (Though not all of them are exactly role models. Please do not bite your child. But please do read this book.)

Are Your Eyes Listening? by Sarah Stup

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review by stimmyabby

This is a gorgeous book. And brave.

I love her poems about nature – about going barefoot into the ocean – about “Stars are candles on the altar of our world”- and about disability.

“I am real when I write.” She writes. “Click, click,/ clicking keys are my heartbeat.” She writes. “Listen with your eyes.”

“It was a place decorated with normality, but dozens and dozens of school buses rounded up imperfection and corralled it there. Later I would learn about stares and words that formed fences around regular schools to keep me from trespassing.”

“Autism is part beast and part/ human… Love/ my beast. Beast keeps me safe. Find/ me inside the beast. I am the soul.”

“Pity sounds like caring, but it is really fear.”

“I am real when I write.”