Monday, July 10, 2017

The Seven Rules of Elvira Carr

The Seven Rules of Elvira Carr by Frances Maynard
Sourcebooks: 7/11/17
eBook review copy: 400 pages
ISBN-13: 9781492649298

The Seven Rules of Elvira Carr by Frances Maynard is a very highly recommended look into the life of a twenty-seven year-old neuro-atypical woman.

Elvira Carr lives a very restricted life with her authoritarian, overbearing mother. She does tasks for her mother in their home and she goes to the store. Elvira follows the rules. She enjoys biscuits, has amassed a lot of information about each kind, and collects the packages. She also takes what people say at face value, which can be troubling.

When her mother has a stroke and Elvira is suddenly on her own, she knows she needs to make sure she is adapting and fitting into a world she has little experience navigating through. She sets up a meal schedule. She keeps the house clean. Her neighbor Sylvia helps her follow the bus schedule to visit her mom and expand her understanding of the world. When she takes a computer class and actually buys a computer, Elvira discovers that there are groups online of people just like her who find ways to fit into the world of Normal-typical people.

This is when Elvira writes her list of seven rules that will help her move around the world without getting into trouble and perhaps even have her differences go unnoticed. Sylvia helps refine and explain areas Elvira questions. The rules help Elvira understand the world and some of the troubling questions she has about her life with her mother and father.

The seven rules are:
Rule 1: Being Polite and Respectful is always a Good Idea. Rule 2: If you Look or Sound Different, you won’t Fit In. Rule 3: Conversation doesn’t just Exchange Facts - it Conveys how you’re Feeling. Rule 4: You learn by making Mistakes. Rule 5: Not Everyone who is Nice to me is my Friend. Rule 6: It’s better to be too Diplomatic than too Honest. Rule 7: Rules change depending on the Situation and the Person you are speaking to.

The writing is quite good. The narrative has Elvira experiencing a number of challenging incidents and her reactions are realistic and sometimes heartbreaking. Elvira will have your full support and devotion as she works out a way to live among the normal-typical people and their figures of speech that can be so troubling and difficult to understand. The only minor quibble I had with it was the convenience in the plot that her mother was wealthy enough to have a trust fund set up for Elvira so she could stay in her home. It worked for a heartwarming fictional story, but was a tab-bit too fortunate and opportune in the real world.

This is a wonderful, touching, and charming, novel about a young woman, likely on the Autism spectrum (although it is never specified), and how she figures out a way to cope in the real world of normal-typical people. You can tell that author Maynard works with adults with learning disabilities as she handles her character with an insight and compassion that sets this book apart from many others. It can be favorably compared to The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and Be Frank With Me. The Seven Rules of Elvira Carr would be an excellent choice for a book club.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Sourcebooks.

1 comment:

jenclair said...

I had not heard of this book, but I am definitely adding it to my list! Thanks for the review. :)