Friday, July 27, 2012

Under The Banana Moon by Kimberly Gerry-Tucker

Kimberly Gerry-Tucker's memoir is not just another Asperger's autobiography; it is much more than that. From rich recollections of a childhood where things were often more real than people, where words often failed to come out, where one call almost feel the textures Kim paints with her words to the story of a how a family copes with the diagnosis, illness, and subsequent death of the husband and father from ALS, Under the Banana Moon is a window into Kim's world and her unique way of seeing and experiencing it.

Diagnosed as an adult with Asperger's at the same time her son received his diagnosis, Kim has been a presence in the online autism community since its outset.  Although she was always different and recognized that difference, it wasn't until she read Donna Williams' book that she got a sense of why she was different. Donna encouraged Kim to write this book and has taken the time to interview Kim on her website two times, first when the book was published on in 2010 and again this year when it became available on Amazon.

Kim's writing is fresh and interesting, and if the memoir were packaged as fiction, would do very well. We like interesting and different characters in our fiction, and this book is an easy, fast read that was reminiscent in essence (though not in style) to Fried Green Tomatoes--the warm feelings, the sense of connection to the interesting characters--all that you get in Kim's book--and it's a bit of a shock to stop and realize these are real people with real lives. Howie, her husband, is rich and real, from the way he insisted she wash his hair when they were first dating to how he is larger than life as an adult, controlling much of her life. He's flawed and human, but throughout the book, Kim's devotion to her husband and their family is steadfast.

When he falls ill, she is by his side, and they make the journey to various doctors together as a unit, with him somewhat begrudgingly letting go of control. It's a journey that would test the strength of any person and any relationship, and her care of him, all the way to becoming "the keeper of the penis" is not saintlike, but real. They fight, they laugh, but most of all, they get through it together.

Kim acknowledges how important her parents were in helping her become the person she is, how their love and acceptance helped her to function and grow. Kim married, had children, is a grandmother, a writer, a volunteer, and an artist and she's on the autism spectrum. Her autobiography is a testament to the reality that autistic individuals can have rich, full, productive lives and that it is easier to do this when they are accepted as they are for who they are.

We like our fictional characters to be oddballs, to beat the odds. We connect with them and can feel euphoria when we see them triumph. We connect with their struggles and we root for them. It seems to me that it's harder, though, when they're real people we actually have to deal with. We could and should do better at acceptance in the real world of the real people. After all, if we were all alike, what fun would that be? We rob ourselves and our society of the opportunity to experience the rich diversity of humanity when we confine our connection to those who are different to fictional portrayals.

Kimberly Gerry-Tucker's memoir is a worthwhile read. It's a fun read. It's also a very real one. I encourage you to check her book out at Amazon; it's an extremely affordable buy as a kindle e-book.


melbo said...

I'm going to pick up the Kindle edition. Thanks so much for this - can't wait to read it.

mimestream said...

Let me know how you liked my book! Contact info at my blog on ravenambition wordpress



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