An uplifting tale about a woman who voices her desires and transcends her limitations, shedding a revealing and flattering...

My Perfect Imperfections

In this novel, a young woman with cerebral palsy lives, loves, and thrives.

Confined to a wheelchair and unable to speak without assistance from an electronic device, Lily Cooper accepts being dependent on others for help. Her only friend—her beloved sister, Layna—treats her like an equal, while her well-intentioned parents fight about her care. When Layna dies unexpectedly, Lily sinks into depression (“I have no idea of the purpose of my existence anymore. I question what it is in this world that is still keeping me alive”). But eventually she realizes that she must reimagine her future. What follows is an inspiring glimpse into the active and determined mind of a person who, from the outside, appears to be unresponsive. Lily remains, in fact, painfully aware of other people, from those who speak loudly and slowly as if she can’t understand them to those who call her “retarded” just to hurt her feelings. But the ones who take the time to learn how to communicate with her become charmed by her determination and grace. Lily never lets her disability stop her from pursuing her dreams. She finishes high school, attends college, gets her own apartment, and starts a family. Although there are a couple of structural hiccups (the time shifts in the first act seem unnecessary and cause Lily to introduce herself twice to the reader), Williby (Loving You Hurts So Good, 2016, etc.) successfully balances Lily’s many triumphs with detailed descriptions of the day-to-day hardships of living with cerebral palsy. Lily requires help performing the most basic tasks, and her limited mobility sometimes leaves her stranded in awkward—and potentially dangerous—situations. In one thought-provoking scene, Lily’s parents deliberately seize her communication device to keep her from asking too many questions about a painful subject. But Lily is willing to fight for her independence, especially when she meets Chance Ryker, who watched his father die from ALS and fears meeting the same fate. In one especially lovely scene, he tells Lily, “I love to see you smile because you smile with your eyes.” 

An uplifting tale about a woman who voices her desires and transcends her limitations, shedding a revealing and flattering light on the private lives of the disabled.

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-5152-2474-7

Page Count: 206

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: April 29, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...

FLY AWAY

Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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