My Son’s Not Rainman – John Williams – 2016 – Memoir


John Williams is a stand-up comedian. He is also a single father and full-time carer for his son, who has autism and cerebral palsy. This is their incredible story.

In 2012, John started a blog called My son’s not Rainman, a heartfelt and uplifting account of everyday life for him and ‘The Boy’. Following on from the blog’s amazing success, John felt there was still much more of their life, past and present, that he wanted to share. And not only of the challenges of bringing up a child who for too long was just dismissed as ‘difficult’, but also of the joy of living with someone who looks at the world in a unique way.

My Thoughts:

I love the tone of the author’s voice in this book. I think the writing style was one of the highlights of this book, because it means the subject matter, which could be very heavy, is actually light-hearted and you are compelled to keep reading. It’s a very humorous book (indeed the author does stand-up comedy) and the chapters involve a lot of funny incidents the author and The Boy have had where autism was just a factor rather than the focus.
I learned a lot from this book about autism. I’ve never really dealt with the subject, beyond the portrayal in mainstream media, so seeing it talked about by a parent whose dealt with it from that perspective was very informative.
I love the positivity and resilience that the author shows. He has had some difficult things to deal with, but this book essentially shows that you should always look for the best in difficult situations. In particular, he says how even though it’s been hard to have his son have health conditions, he wouldn’t change him and appreciates the different viewpoint that his son has allowed him to have.
I gave this book 5/5. If you enjoy memoirs I’d definitely recommend picking this up. Either you’ll find someone you can relate to or you’ll learn a lot about both autism and mental health.

My favourite short books

This week’s Top 5 Tuesday, the first in August (how did that happen?!) is all about books under 300 pages. I find short books really help when you’re in a slump because of all the motivation you get from finishing a book, so here are some of my favourite shorter novels.

If you want psychological thriller… Dolores Claiborne – Stephen King

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If you want non-fiction… This is going to hurt – Adam Kay

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If you want memoir/ self-help… Reasons to Stay Alive – Matt Haig

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If you want a cosy mystery… And then there were none – Agatha Christie

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If you want True Crime… You could do something amazing with your life [You are Raoul Moat] – Andrew Hankinson

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The Stolen Marriage – Diane Chamberlain – 2017 – Historical Fiction

Goodreads Summary

One mistake, one fateful night, and Tess DeMello’s life is changed forever. 

It is 1944. Pregnant, alone, and riddled with guilt, twenty-three-year-old Tess DeMello abruptly gives up her budding career as a nurse and ends her engagement to the love of her life, unable to live a lie. Instead, she turns to the baby’s father for help and agrees to marry him, moving to the small, rural town of Hickory, North Carolina. Tess’s new husband, Henry Kraft, is a secretive man who often stays out all night, hides money from his new wife, and shows her no affection. Tess quickly realises she’s trapped in a strange and loveless marriage with no way out.

The people of Hickory love and respect Henry but see Tess as an outsider, treating her with suspicion and disdain. When one of the town’s golden girls dies in a terrible accident, everyone holds Tess responsible. But Henry keeps his secrets even closer now, though it seems that everyone knows something about him that Tess does not. 

When a sudden polio epidemic strikes Hickory, the townspeople band together to build a polio hospital. Tess knows she is needed and defies Henry’s wishes to begin working at there. Through this work, she begins to find purpose and meaning. Yet at home, Henry’s actions grow more alarming by the day. As Tess works to save the lives of her patients, can she untangle the truth behind her husband’s mysterious behaviour and find the love—and the life—she was meant to have?

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Necessary Lies – Diane Chamberlain – 2013 – Historical Fiction


Goodreads Summary:

After losing her parents, fifteen-year-old Ivy Hart is left to care for her grandmother, older sister and nephew as tenants on a small tobacco farm.  As she struggles with her grandmother’s aging, her sister’s mental illness and her own epilepsy, she realizes they might need more than she can give.

When Jane Forrester takes a position as Grace County’s newest social worker, she doesn’t realize just how much her help is needed.  She quickly becomes emotionally invested in her clients’ lives, causing tension with her boss and her new husband.  But as Jane is drawn in by the Hart women, she begins to discover the secrets of the small farm—secrets much darker than she would have guessed.  Soon, she must decide whether to take drastic action to help them, or risk losing the battle against everything she believes is wrong.

Set in rural Grace County, North Carolina in a time of state-mandated sterilizations and racial tension, Necessary Lies tells the story of these two young women, seemingly worlds apart, but both haunted by tragedy.  Jane and Ivy are thrown together and must ask themselves: how can you know what you believe is right, when everyone is telling you it’s wrong?

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Book Review: Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine – Gail Honeyman – 2017 – general fiction

Goodreads Summary:

No one’s ever told Eleanor that life should be better than fine. 

Meet Eleanor Oliphant: She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy. 

But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three become the kinds of friends who rescue one another from the lives of isolation they have each been living. And it is Raymond’s big heart that will ultimately help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one.

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