Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Book review: Encore Edie by Annabel Lyon

In Encore Edie Annabel Lyons explores how the “able” view the “disabled”. Main character, Edie Snow rascals between feeling pity for her cousin Merry and being embarrassed by her.

The summer when I was ten, just before we all went camping together, Mom sat me down with books and explained Merry’s condition in generic terms—the chromosomes, the double helix, all that, Merry had a snarl in her genetic code. A tangle of black wool was how I pictured it, a snarl you could never comb straight no matter how hard you tried. That was why we had to be kind to her, Mom explained, and never be sarcastic, and always share. And I was ashamed:  because it was her and not me, because she would never get better, because I pitied her and was afraid for her, of what the world would do to someone like her if people like me didn’t take care of her. I was afraid of people like me.’ [p. 34]

‘Merry wants to hold my hand as we walk down the hall… [T]here’s no one around…I let her just this once…“I love you, Edie,” she says.Oh, for god’s sake. “I love you, too,” I say. “Let’s not say that anymore, though, okay?”“Aw,” a voice says.We’re walking past the art room…I realize, too late, that two girls are still in there… Their voices pursue me down the hall.“Are they gay?” I hear the shorter one ask the taller one. “That’s cool.”“No, they’re from the special class… The special kids are so in touch with their emotions.”“I can’t walk Merry home,” I tell Mom.” [p. 38 – 40]

In the end, pity outweighs embarrassment and Edie elects to spend two weeks with Merry rather than go on a family vacation.

I thoroughly enjoyed Encore Edie. The discussion Annabel Lyon has begun is an important one. She has been generous in her frank and honest portrayal of Edie Snow. I saw Edie as a three-dimensional teenager with flaws, attributes, and questions. To further the discussion and to answer some of these questions, I write...

Dear Edie,
It’s natural to judge another’s happiness by peering through the magnifying glass of our reality. Yet, I would caution against doing so. I don’t need your pity and neither does your cousin. Yes, we were born, have lived and will die disabled. However, we are capable of joy. We can have a good life. In fact, we are. Thank you for your concern and know that you are part of this good life. Now loosen up and have a little more fun.

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