Book Review: Saving Abby

Saving AbbySaving Abby by Steena Holmes

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Saving Abby was not impressive. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: good writing goes a long way at saving a predictable book. This book was not well written and it left a lot to be desired in the character-development realm.

It initially drew me in but I quickly became lost in Claire Turner’s obsessive behavior. Clare desperately wants a baby — almost to the point of being neurotic. Josh, Clare’s husband, wants Clare to be happy and he convinces her that a baby is just not in their cards. After trying for 7 years, she and her husband decide to give up on this dream and it starts to completely destroy her. I could not relate to this insane need to procreate at any cost.

Despite their prolonged infertility, Claire and Josh discover they are unexpectedly pregnant and shortly thereafter, they learn Claire has a terrible illness. Claire becomes completely unhinged when her need to protect her child outweighs her own need to live. Clare will stop at nothing to save her baby regardless of her husband’s wishes. I’m sure you can figure out what happens from there. The ending can be seen pretty much from page one. I like a book that stings but I also like to be surprised by that ending.

Holmes gets too wrapped up in the love story here. The love of the mother for her child. The love of the husband for his wife. The love of the community for one of their own. It was just too much.  I finished the book regardless and it ended exactly how I envisioned. For those who enjoy a good Romeo and Juliet tragedy, this is the book for you. For reading addicts, this might be one to pass up since it’s just another in a long line of sob stories.


Book Review: Faultlines

FaultlinesFaultlines by Barbara Taylor Sissel

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

At its core, Faultlines is about the consequences of drunk driving. It begins with an early morning phone call — the kind that no parent wants to get. Sandy’s son and her nephew have been in a car accident. One boy won’t make it, the other will. Two sisters, two mothers must deal with the fact that one son killed the other. A tenuous past is broken further at the exact moment when family is needed the most.

Meanwhile, other strange twists and turns take our characters on a spellbinding ride. However, it’s a bit predictable in their resolution. The writing was good enough to keep me engrossed in the story so even though I was correct in many of my assumptions, I was ok with it. Good writing goes a long way!

In the end, I’m really on the fence about this one. I did enjoy the story at face value. Everything gets tied up in a nice little bow in the end and it just seemed too easy for me. I like a little tension, especially for such a grave topic. Overall, this isn’t a bad book and it does demonstrate the healing power of forgiveness and openness. Certainly worth a read.

Book Review: Limp

Limp: A Funny MemoirLimp: A Funny Memoir by Simon Eli Vella

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The only thing I have in common with Simon Eli Vella is introversion. Despite that fact, Vella is an incredibly relatable person and his memoir is painfully beautiful.

Recounting his awkward childhood, Vella discusses the dangers of letting the voice in your head get the better of you. As an extremely imaginative child myself, I totally understand the constant background chatter. I can also vouch for the fact that the voice is often really, really mean. Vella also teaches the reader how to be really cool in high school, though being cool comes at the price of ethics. Finally, the reader meets adult Vella who still struggles with the voice in his head and well, being an adult.

It’s a story of finding oneself through the darkness that is addiction. This book is not for the faint of heart. It’s more than a little graphic. There is gratuitous…everything. It’s totally worth it however. Vella writes from the heart and he’s good at it.

I was given an advance copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Autism Night Before Christmas

Autism Night Before Christmas
by Cindy Waeltermann

Twas the Night Before Christmas
And all through the house
The creatures were stirring
Yes, even the mouse

We tried melatonin
And gave a hot bath
But the holiday jitters
They always distract

The children were finally
All nestled in bed
When nightmares of terror
Ran through my OWN head

Did I get the right gift
The right color
And style
Would there be a tantrum
Or even, maybe, a smile?

Our relatives come
But they don’t understand
The pleasure he gets
Just from flapping his hands.

“He needs discipline,” they say
“Just a well-needed smack,
You must learn to parent…”
And on goes the attack

We smile and nod
Because we know deep inside
The argument is moot
Let them all take a side

We know what it’s like
To live with the spectrum
The struggles and triumphs
Achievements, regressions…

But what they don’t know
And what they don’t see
Is the joy that we feel
Over simplicity

He said “hello”
He ate something green!
He told his first lie!
He did not cause a scene!

He peed on the potty
Who cares if he’s ten,
He stopped saying the same thing
Again and again!

Others don’t realize
Just how we can cope
How we bravely hang on
At the end of our rope

But what they don’t see
Is the joy we can’t hide
When our children with autism
Make the tiniest stride

We may look at others
Without the problems we face
With jealousy, hatred
Or even distaste,

But what they don’t know
Nor sometimes do we
Is that children with autism
Bring simplicity.

We don’t get excited
Over expensive things
We jump for joy
With the progress work brings

Children with autism
Try hard every day
That they make us proud
More than words can say.

They work even harder
Than you or I
To achieve something small
To reach a star in the sky

So to those who don’t get it
Or can’t get a clue
Take a walk in my shoes
And I’ll assure you

That even 10 minutes
Into the walk
You’ll look at me
With respect, even shock.

You will realize
What it is I go through
And the next time you judge
I can assure you

That you won’t say a thing
You’ll be quiet and learn,
Like the years that I did
When the tables were turned……

The Dinner Party

Nothing makes me more aware of my differences than a dinner party.  Smaller parties are ok.  I can eat before and avoid the snack platter.  No biggie.  Dinner parties, even with family, are a whole new ballgame.

Family dinners are stressful.  My family tries to understand but it is complicated.  Quite often they go above and beyond when it comes to food prep, ingredients, and serving.  However, they don’t understand completely and I don’t expect them to do so.  I don’t let my guard down but I’m ok with that.  It comes with the territory.

Throughout the cooking process and dinner I have a difficult time enjoying the moment because I’m watching the food.  The tiniest crumb will make me ill for days.  I don’t have a problem with dishes that aren’t gluten free but one absent-minded move with the spoon means disaster for me.  I’m always having to watch to see who touched their regular bread with the butter knife and then stuck it back in the butter dish.  Did that contaminated spoon just touch my safe dish?  Did I miss something?  Will I be sick for a week?

It’s easier when Jon is with me.  He’s a second pair of eyes on the food.  If something gets contaminated he’ll either point it out to me or grab the dish and scoop out the contaminated portion.

It’s difficult to watch people go out of their way for me and I’m still not ok with it.

I am sitting in a room at Jon’s parents’ house feeling totally useless.  He is going out with friends tonight to play video games leaving me here with his parents. Which is fine.

Except they are having a party tonight for their friends.

Jon’s father has gone out of his way to make gluten free food tonight.  He’s modified recipes, gotten special ingredients, etc.  Except I totally cannot go to this party.  Not because I’m sick but because eating gluten free is difficult enough when it is just family around. Now I have to do it in front of total strangers.  I just can’t do that in front of strangers…especially alone.