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review 2018-12-14 11:35
International Day of Tolerance Book - "The Seven Imperfect Rules of Elvira Carr" by Francis Maynard - highly recommended
The Seven Imperfect Rules of Elvira Carr - Frances Evelyn Maynard Greville Warwick

"The Seven Imperfect Rules Of Elvira Carr" is one of the best books I've read this year and is the best book I've read about how neuroatypical people make a place for themselves in the world.

 

The main joy of this book is that Elvira Carr, Ellie to her friends, is a wonderful person. Not a saint. Not perfect. But someone who is fully engaged with her own life. She's curious, honest to a fault, wants to help others and is capable of great joy. I fell in love with her immediately.

 

Elvira knows she isn't the same as everyone else. Her mother has told her this time and time again as she grew up and there have been "incidents" that reinforce Elvira's mother's view that Elvera's "condition" means she's not equipped to deal with the world.

Only when her mother is hospitalised does Elvira discover, at the age of twenty-seven, that her "condition" has a name and that she is not alone.

 

Elvira is neuroatypical. This means she perceives and thinks about things differently than neurotypical people. As she uses the internet to connect to others like herself, Ellie comes to understand that her "condition" is not an illness. She's perfectly capable, not just of looking after herself but of contributing more widely to her community. She has a job at an animal sanctuary. She helps provide old people at the nursing home with contact with small animals who lift their spirits.  She looks after her neighbour's young granddaughter.

 

Ellie's problems are caused by the often incomprehensible and contradictory expectations and behaviour of neurotypicals, some of whom she believes have the power to "send her away".

 

To help navigate the strange ways of the neurotypicals and to prevent her freedom to live an independent life being taken away from her, Elvira with the help of her neighbour develops seven rules. She writes the rules on a spreadsheet and then tests them against her experience, ticking boxes when she uses them, adding examples, guidelines and acceptance criteria to make these imperfect rules work better.

 

By telling the story entirely from Elivira's point of view, the author has produced something that is neither a saccharine cliché nor a disturbing freakshow.   The thing is that Elvira is much nicer than most people you'll meet. She has no malice. She's always honest. She gets angry and afraid, especially when she makes mistakes and misreads the neurotypicals, with there attachment to figures of speech and their habit or saying one thing and meaning another. She's also capable of joy so overwhelming that, when she's alone and neurotypicals can't see and send her away,  she has to run around the room with her arms out to let it flow through her.

 

Ellie faces a series of challenges in the book: her mother's incapacity, a mystery around her dead father and his frequent trips to Japan, conflicts with members of her neighbour's family, predatory males and lots and lots of NEW things that create stress.

Ellie's struggles and her limitations are ones we can all empathise with and perhaps share to some degree which means that her triumphs make us happy.

 

I found myself wondering how neurotypical I was and whether there was really any such thing. Putting the labels aside, I found myself wishing that I could meet Elvira and hoping that I would overcome some of my neurotypical habits for long enough really to see her.

 

"The Seven Imperfect Rules of Elvira Carr" is beautifully written and perfectly narrated. I strongly recommend listening to the audiobook version. Click on the SoundCloud link below to hear Charlie Sanderson bring Elvira to life.

 

[soundcloud url="https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/361476302" params="color=#ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&show_teaser=true&visual=true" width="100%" height="300" iframe="true" /]

 

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text 2018-12-14 09:40
24 Festive Tasks: Human Rights Day, Task #2 and 3
Grey Mask - Patricia Wentworth
The Thirteenth Tale - Diane Setterfield
Kaleidoscope - Dorothy Gilman

Task 2:  This year is the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Find 3 books on your shelves with protagonists or other key characters who are -- or can reasonably be assumed to be -- 70 years or older.

 

The 3 books I found on my shelves that weren't Agatha Christie books (which is what I get for lagging behind on my tasks) that had characters over the age of 70 are purely speculative.  None of their ages could be verified for certain.  All are referred to as "senior".

 

Miss Maude Silver in the Patricia Wentworth series is a retired governess.  

 

Vida Winter is a reclusive famous author who is at the end of her life and dictating her authorised biography in The Thirteenth Tale

 

Madame Karitska is an older clairvoyant in Dorothy Gilman's lesser known, and shorter, mystery series.

 

Task 3:  The symbol of Human Rights Day is the dove, which in its incarnation as a homing pigeon is also renowned for its navigational skills. – Tell us: Did you ever get so thoroughly lost (either in the days before GPS or because GPS, for whatever reason, was of no use to you) that you wished you had a homing pigeon to guide you?

 

I've only been lost on the road one time that I can recall, when I worked at a job that required a lot of travel (pre map app days).  I arrived in Washington D.C. at Reagan National Airport and had to drive to Silver Springs, Maryland, which is roughly on the opposite side of D.C. from the airport.  No matter what I did, what route I took, I ended up in front of the Smithsonian Natural History museum. Every. Time.  Now, that's my favorite museum in D.C., but I was tired, and I just needed to check into the hotel - but it was as if that museum was a giant magnet that kept pulling my car back.  At one point I pulled over, (in front of the museum of course), called my boss nearly in tears of pure frustration, and told him I was never going to make it onto the project because I couldn't get away from the damn museum.  Eventually, I made it through, but it was the most frustrating driving experience I can remember.

 

On another project for the same company, in Montreal, a co-worker and I spent the weekend walking the city, and at one point explored the beautiful Notre-Dame-de-Neiges Cemetery - Canada's largest cemetery and the 3rd largest in North America (over 1 million occupants).  We got lost in it.  Totally, utterly, lost.  For a couple of hours, we could not find our way out; it started out hilarious and became a tiny bit worrying. Apparently, we're not the only ones; the cemetery now offers a computerised mapping service.  

 

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text 2018-12-14 08:25
24 Festive Tasks: Sinterklaas / St. Nick Task #2

Task 2: You are King / Queen for the day and can have 3 ‘wishes’:  one for yourself, one for your community (any version) and one for the world: What are they?

 

 

My wish for myself:  The serious, big-picture wish:  Good health for me, my pets and my husband.  The this-is-a-game serious wish:  More bookshelves.  Call me Ms. Predictable.

 

My wish for my community:  Social balance.  Tolerance for all races and creeds tempered with a sense of proportion, rationality and respect. A community that can view differences between its members as simply things that make everyone unique, and celebrate each individual's rights to express themselves and their beliefs without judgement.  Also, an impeachment of the current Oval Office occupant.

 

My wish for the world:  Balance in all things: Social, political, religious, economic, and above all, environmental.  Wisdom.  Integrity.  Agency.

 

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text 2018-12-14 08:12
24 Festive Tasks: Sinterklaas / St. Nick Task #1

Task 1:  Write a book wish list to St. Nick.

 

 

 

 

 

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text 2018-12-14 06:46
24 Festive Tasks: Human Rights Day, Task #1

Task 1:  Book hunt for human rights:  Search your shelves for books with titles containing human rights words such as: hope, friendship, equality, justice, love, liberty, etc.  Put them in a stack and take a picture for posting.  (5 book minimum).

 

I ended up finding Heart's Delight (a stretch, but it felt fitting), Life, Truth, Sanctuary, happiness, Living, Justice, Friends and Hope.

 

 

 

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