November 3, 2017
***This post contains Amazon affiliate links.
Do you appreciate reading stories from a differing abilities perspective? Do you know someone on the spectrum or would you like to experience what that would be like? Are you a professional whose work involves persons on the spectrum? If you wonder what life looks like from the perspective of Autism, please continue reading and be encouraged to add Ginny Moon to your TBR.
Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig
Genre/categories: YA/Adult Crossover Contemporary Fiction, coming of age, autism, family life, adoption, differing abilities
Ginny is fourteen, adopted, a child on the spectrum, and is committed to saving her “baby doll.” In her fourth home since having been removed from her biological mom’s care, she has now been adopted by her “forever mom” and “forever dad.” For years, Ginny has been troubled about something that happened the night she was taken away from her biological mom and cannot think about anything else until she makes it right. Her “forever” parents and her counselor don’t seem to understand the extent of Ginny’s commitment or her concern, so Ginny is left with no choice but to attempt an escape. Amazon Rating (November): 4.5 Stars
Ginny’s Mission: As you discover the cause of Ginny’s preoccupation and consuming worry, you will love Ginny and your heart will break as she sacrifices everything and risks it all to make it right.
Authentic Voice: The author speaks from an authentic voice because he also adopted a child on the spectrum. Ludwig does a phenomenal job of unlocking Ginny’s inner world for the reader.
A Likeable Character: I adore Ginny! She loves Michael Jackson, eats nine grapes for breakfast, needs lists and rules, always notes the time, takes things literally, and is “special” in more ways than the difference in her abilities….she’s a “smart cookie,” determined, compassionate, an innovative problem solver, loyal, a survivor, and brave.
Belonging: Overall, this is an important, poignant, and meaningful read. Readers will fall in love with Ginny and be touched by her deep desire to belong (can’t we all relate?!), her struggle being stuck on the “wrong side of forever,” and her desperation to get back to make things right.
A Personal Connection: If you work with or know of children on the spectrum, you appreciate that each one has different needs and that there’s a great deal to learn about working with communication challenges and rigid and literal thinking. As a teacher, I’ve had some experience with students on the autism spectrum and Ginny reminds me so much of a former student. I kept visualizing my student through Ginny’s actions, expressions, and thinking. They were eerily similar and I immediately cared a great deal for Ginny and felt a connection.
Frustrating Adults: I felt frustrated with the adults in the story who could have dealt more effectively with the abuse and trauma that Ginny had experienced in her first home, and they could have focused more on communication and understanding the desperation behind Ginny’s actions. It saddens me that Ginny had to act in extreme ways to deal with her anxiety and worry, and I wish she had received more support from more effective adults.
The Writing: I appreciate the way the author causes me to care about Ginny and immediately immerses me into the story. The story is engaging and page-turning. As the author attempts to demonstrate a certain exactness and rigidity in Ginny’s thinking; he chooses to emphasize/repeat certain words and phrases. Ginny loves the word”tedious” and this is how the use of words/phrases such as “forever mom,” “forever dad,” “forever home,” and “baby doll” felt to me. Maybe I noticed this because I enjoyed an audio version of the book. If I had read a print version, I probably would’ve skimmed over these words.
Recommended: I highly recommend Ginny Moon for all readers who appreciate reading books from different perspectives, who care deeply about children on the spectrum, and who root for characters with lots of heart.
My rating 3.5 stars (rounded up to 4 stars on Goodreads).
Meet the Author, Benjamin Ludwig
A life-long teacher of English and writing, Benjamin Ludwig lives in New Hampshire with his family. He holds an MAT in English Education and an MFA in Writing. Shortly after he and his wife married they became foster parents and adopted a teenager with autism. Ginny Moon is his first novel. His website is available at http://www.benjaminludwig.com, and he tweets @biludwig.
Have you read Ginny Moon or is it on your TBR?
How do you feel about reading a book from a differing abilities perspective? I’m curious what you think about the portrayal of Ginny if you have a child on the spectrum.
Happy Reading Bookworms!
“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke
“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes
“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text
Genre/categories: contemporary women’s fiction, feminism, politics
Monica Lewinsky reimagined.
Still with me? This story is about a woman who is reinventing her life after interning for a congressman as a college girl and gets into a Monica Lewinsky type scandal. The story is told from five distinct female voices: younger Jane (Aviva), older Jane, Jane’s mother, Jane’s daughter, and the congressman’s wife.
Amazon Rating (November): 4.2 Stars
Even though contemporary fiction with a feminist focus is not my go-to genre, I was enticed to give this a try because (1) Zevin is the author of The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry, a favorite read; and (2) it was selected by the Modern Mrs. Darcy Book Club as the October read, and I trust their recommendations.
The five voices through which this story is told are certainly distinctive. Sometimes my experience with multiple voices/perspectives is that they all sound like the author. In Young Jane Young, the voices are refreshingly different. Also of note is that the voices do not move the story forward, rather they retell the story from their unique perspective. It’s interesting that two of the voices are her younger and older self.
I’m always looking for important themes in books. One important theme in the book is the importance of one’s good name. We hear from younger Jane’s mom, and I’m sure you’ve heard this wise advice from your own parents, too, that your good name is all you have.
“In this life and the next one, all you have is your good name.”
Your good name has always been important but even more so in current times because your online history lives on forever.
Another theme that would lead to good discussion involves the double standard. In young Jane’s experience, she has a relationship with an older married congressman. She gets shamed and is forced to rebuild her life, while the man apologizes, is forgiven, and continues with his career and recovers his public image.
In addition to a couple of relevant themes, another important strength of the story for me is that it ends on a redemptive and hopeful note as Jane is found rebuilding her life, gaining confidence, and finding her voice.
What I Wish:
I will always give you my honest opinion, so I do need to mention a few elements which affect my rating. First, I felt like some of the writing choices were gimmicky. For example, the young Jane chapter is told in a choose-your-own-adventure format and second-person point of view. Choose-your-own-adventure books are popular in elementary school (you or your children most likely have read a few). In a way, it’s a clever connection and metaphor for those times in life when we reflect on our previous choices and wonder what would’ve happened if we’d made a different choice; however, to have the entire structure of the chapter shaped around this concept seemed gimmicky. In addition, I thought the second person POV was difficult to read for an extended amount of text in that it was a jarring departure from more traditional first or third used in the rest of the book. You know what I mean?! An additional concern for me also involved structure in that we find the daughter’s entire chapter written in email format as she communicates with a new pen pal from Afghanistan. This was not only distracting because it added an entirely new cultural context and character to the story, but it also seemed like an impersonal glimpse into serious events that were happening, as we hear only the daughter’s side of the conversation in a second-hand way. Continuing with a couple more concerns, it seemed to me that at times the author was checking off her list of political agenda items to address. Filed under personal preference, I would have appreciated an epilogue. Specifically, I felt more resolution needed to happen for the daughter. Finally, I was disturbed by the lack of good men in this story. With the exception of young Jane’s intern friend, the men were not upstanding role models. I didn’t appreciate the portrayal of generally badly behaved men. The above concerns affected by rating and ability to highly recommend this book. Others have loved it, so check out some other reviews! My Rating: 2,5 Stars (Rounded up to 3 Stars on Goodreads)
Many readers give this book high ratings, so I encourage you to read more reviews before deciding whether or not to read the book. Readers who are looking for a light and engaging vacation/beach/plane read focusing on feminism and politics might enjoy this.
Meet the Author, Gabrielle Zevin
Gabrielle Zevin has published six adult and young adult novels, including Elsewhere, an American Library Association Notable Children’s Book, which has been translated in over twenty languages. She is the screenwriter of Conversations with Other Women (starring Helena Bonham Carter and Aaron Eckhart), for which she received an Independent Spirit Award nomination. She has also written for the New York Times Book Review and NPR’s All Things Considered. She lives in Los Angeles.
I haven’t yet made a final decision about what I’m reading and reviewing for this next week. Sometimes it depends on what’s available at the library! However, The Other Alcott is high on my TBR list! What are you reading or thinking of reading?
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