Lou Arrendale is a member of that lost generation, born at the wrong time to reap the awards of medical science. Part of a small group of high-functioning autistic adults, he has a steady job with a pharmaceutical company, a car, friends, and a passion for fencing. Aside from his annual visits to his counselor, he lives a low-key, independent life. He has learned to shake hands and make eye contact. He has taught himself to use "please" and "thank you" and other conventions of conversation because he knows it makes others comfortable. He does his best to be as normal as possible and not to draw attention to himself.But then his quiet life comes under attack.
It starts with an experimental treatment that will reverse the effects of autism in adults. With this treatment Lou would think and act and be just like everyone else. But if he was suddenly free of autism, would he still be himself? Would he still love the same classical music - with its complications and resolutions? Would he still see the same colors and patterns in the world - shades and hues that others cannot see? Most importantly, would he still love Marjory, a woman who may never be able to reciprocate his feelings? Would it be easier for her to return the love of a "normal"?
There are intense pressures coming from the world around him - including an angry supervisor who wants to cut costs by sacrificing the supports necessary to employ autistic workers. Perhaps even more disturbing are the barrage of questions within himself. For Lou...
©2002 Elizabeth Moon; (P)2008 Audible, Inc.
Nebula Award, Best Novel, 2003
I found this book in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy category, but it is neither. Instead, it's a bildungsroman about an autistic man. It wasn't terrible, but it wasn't what I was looking for.
Full of insights into both the "normal" and autistic mind, some of them profound. If someone had described this story to me in more detail, I doubt I would have chosen this book. But I found myself fascinated by Lou, his view of the world as an autist, and his struggles with the decision whether or not to undergo the treatment. I was genuinely moved by the author's portrayal of this quietly remarkable character.
Greatly contributing to the enjoyment of the audio book experience was the wonderful narration. His rendering of character was spot on. He gave subtlety to the expression of Lou's character that made him utterly believable. This narrator was also very good at delineating the characters through tone, pitch, accent, etc., to such an extent that I often forgot that all characters were played by the same voice actor. In lesser hands, this audio book may well have fallen flat. Instead, it was a very enjoyable experience that made me both think and feel.
Yes. This book takes you inside the mind of an autistic man in the not-to-distant future. The character, science and situations place you in a constant state of "what's happening next?", "how is he going to react?", "What's really going on?" - while at the same time drawing you into the "autistic state", making you look internally to your foibles, thinking and inclinations. Awesome job for a single book!
The solid first-person way of thinking, analyzing and reacting. The performance by Jay Snyder was exceptional. This is the first book in a long time that created a character so realistic that the only way I can imagine this being successful is in book form - no movie, just in-depth characterization.
No, but I will...
definitely, but did not have the opportunity.
I don't know how Elizabeth Moon could even "think" the way this character comes across. Makes me want to do research into autism and neurology, Fantastic job!
I loved, loved, loved this book, and wanted to hug the author for the way in which she portrayed this autistic man & all the very, very deep questions he & she posed. I saw things from many, many more perspectives than ever before - & I thought I was a fairly perceptive, empathetic, & mindful person. I could barely turn this off & continued chores long past the point of done, just to keep listening.
SPOILER ALERT!! I absolutely, positively HATED the choice she had Lou make, as I thought it denigrated all that had gone before; people have amazing worth AS THEY ARE, & who can say what "normal" is? Then the outcome? Too pat! A way to finish the book on an up note, only. It appears Ms. Moon didn't know where to go, after a point, so had Lou make his (awful, to me) choice, & then have everything turn out smelling sweet. That stank, in my opinion.
HOWEVER! This is still beautifully, wonderfully written, thought-provoking to the nth degree, & OH! Soooo worth a credit & your time. Just grin & bear it at the end, though.
The second half of the book was ridiculous and so seemingly disconnected with the beginning. There was so much time in developing the main character as likable and sympathetic. He was well grounded and the author seemed to make him self sufficient. Then when he was at his strongest the author makes him feel fallible and want to change. Then the whole change thing was horribly developed and just ended.
The main character before the change
The story succeeds on the strength of the first-person narrative voice. It makes the protagonist, Lou Arrendale, completely believable while also creating a view on the world that is believably autistic.
Jay Snyder's voices were believable and the differences between characters clear. His nuanced depiction of Lou Arrendale was perfectly balanced between flatness and a sort of geeky excitement.
There is a moment towards the end when Lou asks his manager if the manager's brother is going to take the treatment for autism and the manager's response reveals a great deal about him and his brother in few words.
This is not a book about action or adventure, but about people and situations.
This book is different from most of Elizabeth Moon's other books, but just as enjoyable. The viewpoint is unique and really interesting.
The reader does a great job also--I liked this audio rendition even better than the print book. He captured the struggle of the main character in dealing with the rest of the world very well.
Kea Giles (Asmus)
Well read by Jay Snyder, this book takes the reader into the mind and life of an autistic man in the near future. If you know someone who is autistic, or who has Asperger's syndrome, you'll feel at home with the character and get some good insight into how your friend, husband, son, or daughter might think. I especially liked the part about comparing an autistic person's facial recognition and other types of perception to that of a blind person. Also, good insight into how other people treat folks who think differently, who act differently.
MBaggins of Blue Star Mage.com
This very thoughtful book is not for folks looking for blowing up - there is only one almost blowing up. Nor is it for folks looking for steamy sex scenes.
This is a great book for us rocking chair philosophers, and for those looking for new amazing "here's the problem now, what if in the future . . . " science fiction.
It is a crucial book for looking at relationships. And of identifying the issues of how to read emotions. I was mesmerized by the careful, fearful, gentle thinking of the main character. So much of what he noticed in this chaotic world are things I have also noticed and thought about.
I have always liked this author.
This book took some fine research, The subject has been so hidden from us because of prejudice and fear of the unusual. She did such a clean and thought provoking job.
I really love it.
And Jay Snyder was perfect. The reading was often tough to clearly show who is speaking, and to signify the dichotomy of the characters: balancing what some perceive as problems of relating and speaking with the often brilliant abilities that they also exhibited. He did it beautifully. I was so impressed.
This is one I am keeping to re-read several more times.
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